SUN CITY – Sergio Garcia emerged from a day of attrition with a lead of just two strokes after his one-under-par 71 in Saturday’s third round of the Nedbank Golf Challenge at Gary Player Country Club.
The Spaniard has been in front since the first round, and he looked as if he was going to be further in front heading into the final round until untimely bogeys on 13 and 18 saw his momentum halted, while South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen’s birdie on 18 put him in touch with the lead.
“I feel like I played pretty well,” said Garcia. “Again, I put the ball in play nicely throughout the day. Just unfortunately pulled it a little bit on 18. Not an easy tee shot into the wind on the left. But other than that, I felt like I did quite well.
“Two or three more putts could have rolled in and it would have been a really good round in very tough conditions, and you know, other than that, I felt like I managed my game quite nicely and shooting under par, it’s always a good thing.”
He started his round with birdies on two and three, and with home favourite Oosthuizen seeming ill at ease with his game on the day and making pars all the way until he dropped a shot on the seventh, his lead looked secure.
The threat to Garcia looked to be coming from further behind, with Belgian Thomas Detry and England’s Ross Fisher making significant moves up the leaderboard.
Detry carded a four-under-par 68 to finish the day in a share of third with two-time champion Lee Westwood and Finn Mikko Korhonen. Fisher’s five-under 67 was the best round of the day, and he goes into the final round in sixth, one ahead of Darren Fichardt of South Africa.
Garcia, like Westwood, is a two-time champion at Sun City, but he’s not sure that’s significant at all.
“I don’t think it’s any advantage,” he said. “It’s something that you have in your pocket I guess, but once you’re out there, it’s tough for everyone, and winning here doesn’t mean that it’s easier for you to do it. You know, every tournament is tough and this one is no different.”
Oosthuizen is chasing his first victory at Sun City, and it’s one which is much coveted by every South African. He worked hard to stay in touch after feeling early on that things were not going to be easy for him on the day.
“I realised early on that it was a round I needed to keep together and not really blow myself out of the tournament,” he said. “I hung in there nicely. These are the rounds you take a lot of positive out; if you don’t play well and you’re still in it to win.
“You know, the birdie on the last was a big momentum shift for me going into tomorrow, and two behind is a lot better than four behind. But yeah, it was a tough day. I just need to dial in a bit tomorrow and hopefully hit it a little better.”
For Garcia, however, it will be more of the same. “I know the course is going to be playing tough again,” he said. “I’m going to go out and try to shoot under par like I’ve done all three days. I think I’m going to see if I can shoot below 70 and see if that’s good enough.”
African News Agency (ANA)