Hennie du Plessis climbed into a share of fourth on Thursday in the third round of the Challenge Tour’s Challenge Costa Brava at Empordà Golf in Girona, Spain when he carded a five-under-par 66.
He made six birdies and a bogey as he improved his position on the leaderboard by three places as he moved to 11-under for the tournament. That put him four shots behind the leader, Ricardo Gouveia of Portugal, who also signed for a 66. His 15-under put him a shot clear of Italy’s Matteo Manassero who had a 63, and a further shot clear of Daniel Hillier of New Zealand, who had a nine-under 62 in his third round to go to 13-under.
Du Plessis had to complete his second round early in the morning of the third day of the tournament, and he did so in his second consecutive three-under 68. He then made three birdies ahead of the turn, on the fourth, fifth and ninth, and then he made three more in succession from the 10th to the 12th. His bogey came on the par-three 13th, and he was unable to birdie the par-five 18th as he did in the first two rounds.
Good news for Du Plessis is that he is projected to climb 14 places to 24th on the Challenge Tour rankings in his current position. That will stand him in good stead ahead of the Grand Final on November 4, after which the top 20 players on the rankings will win their European Tour playing privileges.
Oliver Bekker is in eighth on that list, and, after a third-round six-under 65, is projected to rise to seventh. He is all but assured of getting onto the European Tour next year.
JC Ritchie missed the cut with a second-round of level-par 71, and he will slip to 29th on the rankings with work to do in the final. Jacque Blaauw too has work to do. A six-over 77 in the second round means he missed the cut, and will slip to 36th on the rankings.