Garcia eyes top of Sun City leaderboard

Nicole Garcia crept to within one point of the lead of the Sunshine Ladies Tour’s Investec Royal Swazi Open at Gary Player Country Club on Friday as she carded a one-under 71 in the third round.

Garcia made six points in the modified stableford format, which gives five points for an eagle, two for a birdie, nine for a par, minus one for a bogey and minus three for a double. She had five birdies and four bogeys on her card which took her to four points for the tournament heading into the final round.

“I played really nicely today,” she said. “I’m really happy with my score, because the course is tough. The length is not too bad, the way it’s set up for the ladies, but getting the ball close to the pins is tough with the pin positions and the firmness of the greens. You can just miss a long putt and the ball could go right off the green.”

She found herself just one point behind the leader of the first two rounds, Casandra Hall. Hall opened with an eye-watering 13 points, but she has battled to reproduce that kind of scoring in the next two. She made just two birdies in the third round, with three bogeys and a double putting a dent in the wheels of a charge for what still could be a wire-to-wire victory.

“Casandra was really a long way ahead after the first round,” said Garcia, “but I just kept telling myself that there were three more rounds to go. And with the format encouraging us to chase birdies, I knew there was life in the contest.”

She knows that being better on the par-fives will help her chase down a win. “I didn’t play them well today,” she said. “I had a three-putt par on the fifth, which was frustrating. She dropped a shot on the first, made par on the 18th, and picked up her lone par-five birdie on the 11th.

Nobuhle Dlamini is in third place going into the final round on zero points, six off the lead in the six-player field which is in action as an addition to the men’s tournament.

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