O’Riley extends his lead going into final round
Playing steady golf all day, overnight leader Dean O’Riley was one of only four players who managed to break 70 in the third round of the South African Amateur Stroke Play Championship. He extended his lead over the rest of the field to seven shots, finishing with a 54 hole total of 206, ten under par.
“I was really enjoying it out there, playing great and putting well,” said a jovial Lake Club Benoni member. He recorded five birdies and two drop shots in his round.
The championship is being played at Pearl Valley Golf Estates near Paarl in the Western Cape.
With such a big lead, the top ranked South African amateur golfer, according to the latest South African Golf Association Player Rankings, must start the final round as favourite to win this prestigious championship title.
“I am just going to go out there and keep doing what I have been doing. That is hitting fairways, keeping the ball in play, onto the green in regulation and then rely on my putting,” explained the twenty year old Ekurhuleni golfer of his plan tomorrow.
Four players are grouped together behind the leader on 213, three under par. They are Pieter Moolman (69), Stephen Pienaar (71), Graham van der Merwe (72) and Shaun Barratt (72).
Van der Merwe, who led the championship after the first round, continues his love affair with the hole 5, a par five. He recorded a birdie today to make his cumulative score, on this hole alone, to six under par for the championship so far. This is made up of an albatross in the first round, an eagle yesterday and a birdie today. “I hit it close today, just missed the eagle putt,” he explained nonchalantly after his round.
Pre tournament favourite Ryan Dreyer moved up the leader board after a round of 70, two under par. He is now tied in eleventh place on 217, one over par.
“Don’t think I have a realistic chance tomorrow,” commented the 36 year old Glacier South African Amateur Champion after his round. “A good round may get me second place on Friday. I have been struggling with my driving this week, but I continue to grind it out. The course is wet and playing long, my putting has been really good and has kept me in the game.”
Defending champion JG Claassen, the promising eighteen year old North West Province amateur, recorded a level par 72, to finish on 218, two over par, in fourteenth place. He has not managed to produce the exciting golf he is known for so far this week.
“It was one of those days when from the time I started hitting balls on the range I just felt uncomfortable,” lamented Aaron Russell, local pre tournament favourite, on conclusion of his round. His feelings were confirmed when he hit his three wood out of bounds on the first hole, ending up with a three over seven. He was five over par after three holes, from where he never recovered. The Westlake Golf Club amateur finished with a 77, five over par, to drop well out of contention, 220, four over par.
Brandon Stone, who showed so much promise in the first two rounds, struggled through his round finishing with a 76 and a 54 hole total of 214.
The final round, of the 72 hole championship, is to be played tomorrow. First players tee off at 07h00 and the leaders at 10h40.
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