Irish eyes SA Stroke Play double

Jack Hume did it in 2016. Now Irishman Robin Dawson has similar designs on the prestigious South African Stroke Play Championship trophy after he edged into the lead in Thursday’s third round at Kingswood Golf Estate.

Dawson navigated the Garden Route layout in 65 strokes to burst into the lead at 12 under and he will start the final round with a one shot edge over Frenchman Edgar Catherine, who also completed his round five under par.

South African flag-bearers Andre Nel and Brandon Cloete battled bravely but failed to catch the 21-year-old Tramore golfer.

Cloete carded an even-par 70 and Nel returned a 67 to finish five off the pace in a tie for third with overnight leader Oliver Gillberg from Sweden and Dawson’s compatriot John Galbraith. Gillberg carded a 71 and Galbraith registered a 70.

Catherine’s 65 featured two bogeys, but Dawson dropped just one shot as he cruised into the lead.

He made his move with a brace of birdies at three and four and took the outright lead with another gain at the eighth. His lead remained unchallenged, even when he bogeyed the 13th before he reeled in successive birdie putts at 14, 15 and 16.

“I took an aggressive approach at eight because it was downwind and decided to go with driver,” he said. “I hit it just short of the green and chipped it to a foot, so the gamble paid off. Had a nice couple of pars after that but I lost a little concentration at 13. My second shot came up short and I chipped it 10 feet and missed, but I recovered well with three birdies on the trot.

“Hit a lovely wedge to about 15 feet and holed the putt at 14 and made another good birdie at 15. The 16th is the nice par five and it was in reach in two. I hit it to the front in two and made a good up-and-down for the birdie. Nice steady birdies, steady play today.”

Dawson is hoping for cooler weather in the final round when he starts the title hunt on Friday.

“Wednesday in the rain was perfect because that’s what we are used to, although it was the first time I ever competed in the rain wearing a pair of shorts,” he said. “I struggled with the heat today, even with the slight breeze so a little cooler weather on Friday would be first prize.”

Cloete took some consolation out of a frustrating day with the putter.

“I didn’t gain any ground on Robin, but at least I didn’t fall away,” said 25-year-old from Pezula, who had two birdies and a pair of bogeys on his card.

“I really had to fight out there. I took a conservative approach, but I had to make some critical par-saves to keep the round going. The ball striking has been really consistent over all three days, but the putts just didn’t fall. I’ll have to get the putter hot and go really deep to catch Robin on Friday.”

Venter stumbled out of the blocks with a double bogey, but didn’t let the early mistake dictate his round.

“I hit it left of the green at the first and the ball was down in the thick stuff,” said the KeNako Academy player. “The ball didn’t come out as I hoped for and I left the chip short and on the wrong side of the green.

“I got myself back on track with back-to-back birdies at the third and fourth and just kept it going from there. I definitely left a few putts out there, but not for the lack of trying. The downhill, left to right putts are very tricky, because you can’t chase them. But I also made some really good par saves which is encouraging. It’s not going to be easy to make up five shots on Robin, but we will have to step it up. You never know what can happen in front.”

Meanwhile GolfRSA National Squad juniors Christo Lamprecht, Luca Filippi and Martin Vorster don’t seem to have any trouble holding their own against the 33-strong international contingent who made the cut.

Southern Cape’s Lamprecht fired a 65 to join former SA Stroke Play champion Jason Smith, reigning Sanlam SA Amateur champion Craig Ross from Scotland and Alex Gleeson from Ireland in 12th on two-under-par 208.

Western Province’s Filippi and reigning Nomads SA Boys U-15 champion Martin Vorster from Southern Cape tied for 16th and 18th respectively after posting a pair of 69s.

Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of Golf RSA, a SAGA and WGSA Not-For-Profit company.

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