Higgins slips while in the lead


ALTHOUGH Kerry's David Higgins lost a little ground with a two over par 74 in yesterday's third round of the South African Masters at the San Lameer County Club, he thoroughly enjoyed playing in the lead three ball with local favourite Wayne Westner and Zimbabwe's Mark McNulty.

"I enjoyed it and had a nice day, although things didn't go well for me," Higgins said. "It's quite nice to be in that position, though, and it was great playing with Mark and Wayne.

Waterville's Higgins slipped to 214 after 54 holes two under for the tournament and seven shots behind overall leader Westner, who carded a solid 70. Liverpool born Chris Williams returned a 69 to share second place with McNulty (72) on 209.

Higgins was initially a little overawed yesterday and he dropped three shots in his outward nine to turn in 38.

But he began to click with birdies at 10, 11 and 13 to move to five under for the tournament.

"On the front nine, I couldn't get anything going," he said. "I hit two poor shots and made two bogeys. But on the back nine, I made three birdies in five holes by hitting good shots to 10 feet."

Sadly, Higgins then dropped two shots at the par four 14th but, as he said later: "I felt I played better than my score. Tomorrow, I just want to keep on playing well. I just need a few breaks."

Westner was impressed, of what he saw of Higgins: "He's a very nice player and very tidy. I think he's got a very good golf swing.

"He's still a little bit young and immature in his approach to some of the shots he takes on but that's what maturity as a golfer is all about making fewer and fewer mistakes.

On a personal note Westner said: "I'm a little disappointed with the way it went today - I just did nothing.

"I played really steadily and missed only three greens all day. I've been driving the ball nicely all week and hitting my irons really well on the par fours.

Cork's John McHenry, who began the day one under, bad a disappointing 76 and a 54 hole aggregate of 219, tied for 34th place.

Despite picking up a shot at the par four first, the 31 year old suffered a disastrous four hole stretch from the fifth, where he went bogey, double bogey, bogey, bogey. Out in 40, he then managed a damage limitation homeward nine of level par 36 with a birdie and one bogey.

South Africa's Ian Palmer is on his own in fourth position on 211 after a third round of 71.