He lost in a play-off last year, and Hennie du Plessis has set himself up for another bite of the cherry in the Limpopo Championship after a third round of five-under-par 67 on Saturday put him in a share of second ahead of the final round at Euphoria Golf and Lifestyle Estate in the tournament co-sanctioned by the Sunshine Tour and the Challenge Tour.
Du Plessis lost in a high-quality four-man play-off in last year’s edition, with Brandon Stone triumphing over him, Oliver Bekker and Daniel van Tonder. This time around, at 14-under heading into the final round, he’s four shots off the lead which is held by Dane Oliver Hundeboll. Hundeboll won in Bloemfontein early in March, and a four-under 68 in the third round took him to 18-under with 18 holes to play.
“I’d love to make up for last year. Actually, the last three times I’ve played here, to be honest,” laughed Du Plessis, who came third in 2019 and 2020 in addition to his runner-up spot last year. “I’m very comfortable around this course, and in this place generally. And my game’s been good for a long time, so I feel as if a win is definitely possible.”
He started his third round with a bogey on the first, but he quickly got things back on track with five birdies on the front nine – on the second, third, fifth, seventh and eighth. He picked up just one stroke on his homeward nine, but that was bogey-free as he moved himself into contention.
He has looked assured for some time now, and he attributes that to a lot of experience in Europe on the Challenge Tour last year. “It has helped me a lot,” said Du Plessis. “You feel like every time you come home after playing over there on different grasses, and in different conditions, playing on the Sunshine Tour is a little easier – and I don’t mean that to sound arrogant.
“So I’m fairly relaxed about the final round. I’m not going to try anything different. But, because I come from around these parts, I’ll have a few family and friends following me around, and I’ll try and put on a show for them,” he added.
Du Plessis will have fellow-South Africans Pieter Moolman and Luke Jerling breathing down his neck, one stroke behind him at 13-under. They share third with Mateusz Gradecki of Poland. All three are chasing maiden wins on the respective tours, and Jerling, who carded a four-under 68 in the third round, will be particularly mindful of how he let slip his chance to win the Mangaung Open a month ago when Hundeboll took advantage of his slip-up down the final hole to take his maiden Challenge Tour win. For Du Plessis, it will be about channeling frustrations as well as newly-acquired tools as he goes in search of a maiden Challenge Tour win – and a second Sunshine Tour title.