A pair of eagles brought defending champion JC Ritchie right into contention on Saturday with a third-round score of five-under-par 67 taking him into a share of second place in the Bain’s Whisky Cape Town Open at Royal Cape Golf Club.
Ritchie made his eagles on the fifth and the 11th, and picked up two more birdies while dropping one shot as he moved to 14-under-par for the tournament. That was two behind second-round leader Tom McKibbin of Northern Ireland, who followed up his second round of 10-under-par 62 with a two-under-par 70. Ritchie shared second with Spain’s Ivan Cantero Gutierrez.
Grouped on 13-under-par in a share of fourth were five players, four of whom were South Africans. Joining Frenchman Gary Stal were Neil Schietekat, who signed for a five-under 67, Bryce Easton who also carded a 67, Pieter Moolman who finished with a four-under-par 68, and Zander Lombard who had a two-under 70 in his third round.
Ritchie opened his round with four consecutive pars, before picking up that first eagle on the fifth. He finished out the front nine with four more pars to turn in two-under 35. Immediately after the turn, he made a big move up the leaderboard with a birdie on 10 and his second eagle on 11. At five-under for his round with seven holes to play, he would have been looking to go even lower. Bur he made bogey on the par-three 15th in a setback to his charge. But he regained that stroke immediately with birdie on the 17th.
In stark contrast to his second round, when he started with seven successive birdies, McKibbin bogeyed the third in his second round. He was able to avoid slumping to a high score – something that so often happens after a very low round – with three birdies on the fifth, 11th and 15th.
Like Ritchie, Easton had two eagles on his card, also on the fifth and 11th. He had two bogeys and three birdies, while Schietekat had six birdies and a bogey in his round of five-under.
Further back in the field, Wilco Nienaber caused a brief stir as he got it to six-under through 14 holes, and he was very much in contention. But a double-bogey in 15 and a bogey on 17 saw him slip to a three-under 69 and a share of 18th on eight-under.