Moving day at Leopards Creek for the Alfred Dunhill Championship on the European Tour, and it certainly threw up some drama and excitement.
The final two balls saw record-breaking Polish golfer Adrian Meronk three shots ahead of his playing partner JB Hansen after Day Two, and after only four holes that lead had gone, and they were tied for the lead after Hansen had started with two birdies and the Pole two bogeys.
And by the time they had reached the turn, Hansen had gone two shots clear at the top and looked well set to pull clear of the field, he was playing some brilliant golf and continuing on from his imperious second-round showing, he had won for the first time on the Tour last week, and was looking good to win back to back.
But, what happened on the 11th hole nobody saw coming, as after Hansen had sent his tee shot so right it hit a path and ended up in a mass of bushes he ended up finding his ball and having to go forty yards back into someone’s garden to play what was now his third shot, but he chucked it into the bushes again and ended up with a triple-bogey eight.
This coincided with Meronk finding birdies on ten and eleven and suddenly the Pole was back to being three clear at the top, with the Dane dropping into a tie for fourth. Meronk would end the day a shot clear of the chasing pack whilst Hansen never really recovered from that and ended five shots off the leader and having much to do tomorrow if he is to claim back to back wins, it really was a round of two halves for both.
So, who can challenge for the win tomorrow? A certain young South African by the name of Jayden Schaper is right in the mix now and will be in the final group on a Sunday after the nineteen-year-old continued to play some brilliant golf on Day Three to be in second on his own and only a shot back from Meronk, and his playing partner in Round Three, Christiaan Bezuidenhout, is two back after he shot a 68 to get himself into contention.
Zimbabwean born American golfer Sean Crocker is tied third along with Bezuidenhout and also two back going into Sunday, he moved to the US when he was young and his Dad, Gary Crocker, used to play cricket for Zimbabwe, so a sporting family for sure. Could son Sean win on the European Tour tomorrow, well he was in a good position to do this?
Two players who made big strides into the top ten include Scot Callum Hill, who shot a superb 67 to get into a tie in sixth with JB Hansen, five back off the lead, whilst Englishman Marcus Armitage also shot the same number to be tied for tenth but way back (seven shots) so would need a lot to go his way if he was to pick up the win.
Richard Bland, the veteran Englishman, fell back to a tie for eighth today after he shot a two-over-par round, he is now six shots back and like Armitage will need a lot to go his way tomorrow if he is to pick up a first tour win at the 468th attempt, he is tied with American Julian Suri who shot a four-under-par round to climb up to ten places and into the top ten.
A Spaniard did win it last year, and could Adri Arnaus follow in the footsteps of Pablo Larrazabal, well he battled well to post a two-under-par round today to be in a tie for fourth with Crocker, and four back, so he does have a chance if the leaders find it tough tomorrow. A word on last year’s champion Larrazabal, well after battling to make the cut yesterday he faltered today, shooting a two-over-par round to be one over for the tournament and down in a tie for 50th. It safe to say he will not be successfully defending his title tomorrow.
Anyway, after moving day’s action, this is how the leader board looked…
Can Poland’s Adrian Meronk, who has led after all three rounds so far, finish off the job tomorrow and become a national hero, that’s if he hasn’t already become one after the first three days, or can someone from the chasing pack grab a tour win?
For the home folk, they would love either Schaper or Bezuidenhout to pick up the trophy, but there are a few players who could still win this in what should be a rather dramatic final day next to Kruger National Park. Stay tuned…