A Victor on the horizon but local boy chasing Dubuisson

Jacques BlaauwPAARL (7 February 2008) – Frenchman Victor Dubuisson and Bolander Jacques Blaauw (pictured on the right) negotiated the torrid winds of Pearl Valley to top the leaderboard after round three of the SA Amateur Stroke Play on Thursday.

Dubuisson, leader at the half way mark, struggled on an extremely unforgiving layout, as the winds swirled in the valley below the Simonsberg and Drakenstein mountains. The 17-year-old carded a four-over-par 76 and was caught by Blaauw, who signed for a phenomenal two-under-par 70.

The pair lie on a three-round total of one-over-par 217, a stroke ahead of Leon-Brink Knoll, who shot a level par 72.

Dubuisson opened the tournament with rounds of 68 and 73, while Blaauw went around in 74 and 73.

Blaauw’s round on Thursday was the only one in the field under par, on a day when several players struggled to break 80 and some shot in the 90s. Siphiwe Siphayi’s 100 on Wednesday illustrates just how tough the conditions have been this week, similar to those that the professionals played in at the SAA Open in December.

The 21-year-old Blaauw, who attended university in Oklahoma City last year, went around both nines in 35 shots with three birdies and two bogeys on each side of the course.

“The wind was extremely tough, but I’ve played this course ever since it opened so I know my way around it,” said Blaauw. “There was a three or four club wind out there but I was able to take more club and just hit the ball softer to keep the ball flight and spin rate down.”

Dubuisson had firm control of the tournament coming to the 16th hole, but then three straight bogeys to finish took the shine off what was until then a steady round. “I played too safe on those holes and it cost me,” said Dubuisson. “I found the par-threes to be very difficult with the wind.”

Dubuisson shot identical nines of 38 with four birdies, four bogeys and two double bogeys.

The Frenchman, who admits to enjoying the Cannes nightlife, paid tribute to Blaauw but at the same time said that the Bolander’s local knowledge wouldn’t be a huge factor in the final round. “That was an extremely good round in this wind,” he said. “But I also know this course very well, because I played three times here before the tournament started. “I’m going to keep the same strategy and focus on the middle of the green.”

Five shots back of Knoll’s two-over-par 218 score are first round leader Rae Mackie and Le Riche Ehlers. Mackie shot six-over-par 78 and Ehlers five-over-par 77 for a seven-over-par 223 total.

Stephen Swanepoel and Frenchman Benjamin Hebert are a further stroke back on eight-over-par 224. The former carded a seven-over-par 79 and the latter a five-over-par 77.

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