Hennie du Plessis let things slip a little on Saturday, but his two-over-par 74 in the third round of the Nedbank Golf Challenge left him in a share of 16th place, still with a chance to play his way into the DP World Tour Championship next week.
He is projected to 69th place from his current position in the tournament, and has to get inside the top 50 if he is to catch a plane to Dubai for next week’s season-ending tournament.
He started well enough to actually be in the hunt for top spot on the leaderboard on the third round at Gary Player Country Club at Sun City, with birdies on two, three and five lifting him to 10-under-par. But things became tougher for him after he made his first bogey of the day on the par-three seventh, when the wind saw him put his tee shot in the rough left of the green. He was unable to get up and down from there.
That seemed to rattle him, even though he appeared as unflappable as ever. Another wayward tee shot on the next hole, the tough eighth, saw him make a second consecutive bogey. Bogeys from the middle of the fairway on 13 and from a good drive on the par-five 14th brought further frustration, and a final drop with a poor tee shot on the 16th to a devilish pin-position saw him head into the final round at five-under-par.
That’s eight back from Max Homa of the United States, who continues his serene way around the course. He carded a three-under 69 to move to 13-under, one clear of Matthieu Pavon of France, and two ahead of Nicolai Hojgaard and Thorbjorn Olesen of Denmark.
Homa made his first bogey of the tournament on the fourth, when he hit his tee shot left of the par-three and wasn’t able to get up and down. Birdies on five and 14, and an eagle from the greenside bunker on 10 kept him very much in pole position to win the tournament at his first try.
Thriston Lawrence had a 71 to move to one-under and a share of 29th, while Branden Grace had a 74 to slip to level-par and a share of 34th.
Louis de Jager was on three-over after a level-par 72, and Zander Lombard was on four-under, also after a 72. Ockie Strydom had a 75 and was well out of things on eight-over in a share of 62nd in the 66-man field.