Just a day after he produced his first 29 for nine holes in a tournament, Luca Filippi did it again under some pressure in the third round of the Sunshine Tour’s Stella Artois Players Championship at Dainfern Country Club.
He came home on the back nine with seven birdies to card a six-under-par 66 and move to 22-under-par ahead of the final round. That gave him a two-stroke lead over Lyle Rowe and Casey Jarvis, after Jarvis had produced just the second round of 59 in Sunshine Tour history. Kyle Barker was in fourth on 19-under after his seven-under 65, with Rupert Kaminski and Jaco van Zyl in a share of fifth on 18-under.
“Today showed me how important it is to keep patient around this course which has so many birdie opportunities,” said Filippi, who had a shaky start with three pars, and then bogeys on four and five. “I got a little unlucky when I hit the flagstick on six and rebounded off the green, but I made birdie on eight and that restored my confidence and helped me get going on the back nine.”
And he got going with a vengeance, with five birdies in a row from the 10th. “I wasn’t that good off the tee on the front nine,” said Filippi, “and I pulled it a bit on the first few holes. But I managed to iron out a few tics during the front nine, and then my putting came to the party too on the back nine.
“It was a bit of a surprise when I looked at a leaderboard on the front nine and I saw that Casey had shot a 59. I then know I just had to keep working and make as many birdies as I could. Luckily, I made birdies on 17 and 18 too, which will give me some nice momentum going in to the final round.”
Jarvis (pictured below) joined Peter Karmis as the only players to have broken 60 on the Sunshine Tour after Karmis closed with a 59 in the 2009 Lombard Insurance Classic. Jarvis made two eagles and nine birdies without dropping a shot, and he turned in 29 with seven of his birdies coming on the front nine. He eagled the par-five 12th, and then drove the green on the par-four 17th. The resultant eagle there took him to 13-under, and he narrowly missed an 18-footer for birdie on 18 to go to 14-under and 58.
With the knowledge that there’s a 59 out there, the final round promised to be a thriller: Jarvis came from seven back to hold the lead until Filippi hit the front, and there are 18 players within seven of the lead at 15-under and better heading into Sunday.
“I’ve seen how it can go with the way my third round went,” said Filippi. “Patience is what I need to have tomorrow.”