JOHANNESBURG - Thriston Lawrence smashed a booming drive down 18 on Saturday on his way to a seven-under-par 65 and the 54-hole lead in the Sunshine Tour’s Tour Championship at Serengeti Estates.

He made seven birdies and an eagle in an assault on the course that was matched by his playing partner Ockie Strydom, and, but for his two bogeys, Lawrence could have been further clear than the one-stroke edge he has over Strydom going into the final round.

“The tee shot on 18 was the same as yesterday’s, I think it was just downwind today,” said Lawrence of his 360-metre monster final tee-shot. “Yesterday it was from the left and today it was more down. These golf courses, you get a patch that kikuyu and you get a patch that’s dry, so it probably pitched on the dry spot and just went, I don’t know, probably 360 and it made the hole quite easy.”

His eagle came on the 16th – as did Strydom’s – but it was the pair of bogeys Lawrence made on the par-threes on nine and 15 which frustrated him. “I’d have wished to play the par-threes better,” he said. “Yesterday I also made a bogey on the ninth – I think that was my only bogey on the par-threes – but if I can play the par-threes a little bit better and maybe birdie all the par-fives, I think I’ll be in with a shout.”

Strydom followed his brilliant bogey-free seven-under of the second round with more of the same. Like Lawrence, the eagle on 16 was important. “They actually put the tee-box a little bit up for us there,” he said, “and I knew if I got that little sling-draw going, it would be perfect. I got it going, and I had 176 to the flag. I played a soft seven-iron to about seven feet and knocking that in was a momentum builder for me."

He rode that momentum to chip in on 18 to stay just one behind Lawrence. “My approach was into the grain, so I pushed it a little bit,” he said. “As I was standing over the chip shot, I knew it was left edge and it had to go in. And it just went in!”

One shot behind Strydom in a share of third were Jake Roos who fired a five-under 67, and halfway leader Jean Hugo who wasn’t able to buy a birdie until he reached the 16th. He made two in a row then for his 70 and the pair is two shots off the lead heading into what should be a tight final sprint for the line.

For Lawrence, who is seeking his maiden win in a season which has produced four top-10s on his way into this limited field finale to the Sunshine Tour season, there seems to be no reason to change his approach.

“I’ll do what I’m doing even tomorrow,” he said. “I’m hitting it well off the tee so, the key is just to keep hitting it on the fairways and give myself some opportunities and hopefully the putter keeps on working.”

Scores:
203 - Thriston Lawrence 69 69 65
204 - Ockie Strydom 74 65 65
205 - Jake Roos 71 67 67, Jean Hugo 67 68 70
207 - Keenan Davidse 67 70 70
208 - Jean-Paul Strydom 69 67 72
209 - Vaughn Groenewald 72 70 67, JC Ritchie 68 71 70, Philip Eriksson 68 69 72
210 - Hennie Otto 70 71 69, Jaco Ahlers 72 68 70, JJ Senekal 68 70 72
211 - Michael Palmer 72 71 68, Lyle Rowe 71 70 70
212 - Bryce Easton 73 71 68, Jaco Van Zyl 72 71 69, Jaco Prinsloo 72 69 71
213 - Trevor Fisher Jnr 74 72 67, Martin Rohwer 70 75 68, Steve Surry 73 70 70, Merrick Bremner 70 69 74
214 - Daniel Greene 71 74 69, Anthony Michael 74 68 72
215 - Daniel van Tonder 77 68 70
216 - Doug McGuigan 75 71 70
217 - Rourke van der Spuy 74 72 71
218 - Neil Schietekat 72 74 72, Mark Williams 71 74 73
219 - Jacques Blaauw 74 74 71, Jack Harrison 71 75 73
220 - Peter Karmis 74 71 75
223 - Madalitso Muthiya 75 78 70, Tyrone Ferreira 75 75 73, Christiaan Basson 73 76 74, Andre De Decker 71 73 79
224 - Matias Calderon 78 75 71, Benjamin Follett-Smith 73 76 75
229 - Tyrone Ryan 74 79 76
237 - Zander Lombard 81 78 78
RTD - Hennie du Plessis 

African News Agency (ANA)