East London - Darren Fichardt only just made the cut at the Africa Open but he made full use of a hot putter to move into contention after his third round at the East London Golf Club on Saturday.
Fichardt needed just 22 putts as he blazed his way round the par-73 course in eight-under par with a round that included an eagle, eight birdies and two dropped shots.
The 36-year-old Fichardt’s fine third round moved him to 13-under par for the tournament but he lamented a few scruffy moments in the first two rounds which had cost him and even better score.
“I putted really well today and I’ve made 20 birdies and two eagles this week but, to only be 13 under, has been a bit messy but I’m up there now so a good round tomorrow and we’ll see what happens,” he said.
“Hopefully the wind blows a bit tomorrow to bring the leaders back to us and it will lead to an interesting final round,” he added.
Fichardt began the third round in a tie for 65th place and he decided to adopt a high-risk approach on the relatively short coastal course in order to move himself into contention.
“I said to my wife last night that I just had to go out and take a few risks. There are a lot of high risk, high reward holes and I had nothing to lose. I did that today which is why I made so many birdies.
“I played really well. It’s the type of golf course where you just keep going. I was quite upset after those two drop shots but holing out on 13 (for eagle) turned things around a little bit. This golf course suits me, it’s tight and your short game has got to be good which is right up my alley,” he explained.
Fichardt has two European Tour wins to his name but his last victory in Europe was in 2003 at the Qatar Masters when he edged out compatriot James Kingston in a play-off.
A string of injuries saw him lose his playing privileges in Europe but he secured a new card for 2012 by claiming 18th place at Qualifying School late last year.
The Pretoria-born Fichardt said that he and his wife Natasha, along with their two children, would base themselves in England for the year while he attempts to resurrect his European career.
“I had quite a bit of success in Europe but in 2007 I picked up a neck injury. I thought I would recover quickly and I never realised how serious it was. I lost my card that year when I should have taken a medical exemption. I’ve struggled with injury since 2007 and last year I stayed in South Africa and just plugged it out, tried to get fit and worked really hard on my game.
“I’ve played pretty well the last six months. I’ve had 13 top-10s in 15 events so I’m looking forward to this year. We will base ourselves in Manchester, obviously take the whole family with, home school the kids and play the season out in Europe,” he concluded.