Four-way tie at Tshwane Open
Danny Willett of England looks to the heavens after a poor bounce during the third round of the Tshwane Open at Copperleaf Golf & Country Estate in Centurion, South Africa. Photograph: Warren Little/Getty Images
Golf:Darren Fichardt put yesterday’s disappointment behind him to climb back to the top of the leaderboard at the Tshwane Open. The South African is part of a four-way tie for first after consecutive birdies on the 16th, 17th and 18th holes helped him to a round of 64.
That is one shot better than the 65 that gave him the first-round lead on Thursday before a 71 yesterday dented his chances.
“I was upset with yesterday’s round and I fell back to four behind — I wanted to catch that up and get into the mix for tomorrow,” Fichardt told europeantour.com. “I’m just hitting the right shots at the right time and making crucial
putts. If I do hit a bad shot I recover from it and that’s what adds up to good scores, so I’m very happy with my game right now.”
Fichardt came through late on a long day’s play in Centurion. The first players had teed off at 6.45am local time after storms curtailed the second round and another two-hour hold up in the afternoon today meant it was past 6pm when the action stopped.
Charl Coetzee, Dawie van der Walt and Mark Tullo all joined Fichardt on 16 under by the finish, with midway leader Coetzee shrugging off two bogeys by making six birdies and signing for a 68, while Van der Walt and Tullo had blemish-free rounds of 67.
Indeed, Van der Walt and Tullo are yet to drop a shot between them over the opening 54 holes.
The Chilean Tullo is the only player in the top five not to come from South Africa, with the locals hoping to make it five wins from six in events co-sanctioned by the European Tour and the Sunshine Tour.
Louis De Jager is one shot off the lead in fifth, having made eight birdies after an opening bogey to go round in 65.
Of the leading pack, Fichardt is the only one with a prior European Tour title to his name.
Former US amateur champion Peter Uihlein made a 68 today to sit in sixth place, two shots off the pace, while David Howell is one further shot back in seventh.
Jose Maria Olazabal, who needed a 66 yesterday to avoid the cut after a miserable opening 76, was struggling again and he had two double bogeys and a bogey in a round of 74 that left him down in a tie for 73rd place.
Ireland's Damien McGrane shot a 69 to move to eight under, but Darren Clarke, who narrowly avoided the cut, cancelled out birdies with bogeys on the 14th and 16th to remain in a share of 70th place on two under.