Sunshine Tour

Calm Storm keeps cool for SA Open lead

2017-01-14 18:17
Graeme Storm (Gallo Images)

Ekurhuleni - It’s hard to quibble when the 54-hole leader last made a bogey 41 holes ago, and that’s exactly the position in which England’s Graeme Storm finds himself after the third round of the SA Open.

Storm fired a five-under-par 67 to reach 17-under for the tournament on Saturday at Glendower Golf Club to head into the closing round with a three-stroke edge over world number two Rory McIlroy. South Africa’s Jbe’ Kruger and England’s Jordan L Smith share third spot, a further shot back.

“I am just really pleased that I kept the momentum from yesterday and played really nicely and holed some good putts,” said Storm. “I knew it was going to be tricky coming in because the wind picked up on the last few and I don’t hit it as far as the other boys but I managed to play well enough.”

Storm seemed imperturbable throughout the round as McIlroy seemed to be intent on throwing the kitchen sink at him in an attempt to wrest the lead from him – and the Northern Irishman paid the price with bogeys on nine and 18, and a missed birdie putt on 10 which he would ordinarily have sunk.

He managed his way round the course admirably, racking up a streak of 23 successive greens hit in regulation – 18 in the second round, and the first five in the third. That was precisely the kind of precision that gives a player a chance around the Glendower layout.

Storm grabbed his chances on all four of the par-fives, and made his other birdie of the day on the par-four seventh – where McIlroy thrilled the crowd with a great nine-iron which pitched and spun back into the hole for eagle. “It was a perfect yardage – 160 yards, just a little bit of breeze and it was just a nice sort of controlled nine-iron in there, so it’s always nice when good shots like that end up in the hole – it’s a bit of a bonus obviously,” said McIlroy.

Kruger made things difficult for himself by lacing a round of seven birdies with four bogeys as he carded a three-under 69. “I’m missing fairways, missing greens but I’m putting well and that definitely helps,” he laughed. It looked for a while as if he was going to drop completely off the pace, but four consecutive birdies from 12 to 15 saw him come roaring back – only for him to drop another on the 16th.

It all sets up for a thriller from McIlroy as he attempts to chase down Storm in the final round. “I wish I was a little bit closer to the lead,” said McIlroy. “Graeme’s three shots ahead of me at the minute so it would be nice to be within one or two but get off to a fast start tomorrow and it will be interesting.”

Storm is not concerned about what will be coming his way. “I have never played with Rory before and I know him really well so it will be a lot of fun,” he said. “I’m not sure how many fans I will have compared to him but we will have some fun out there.”

And Kruger is relishing the challenge too. “I think it will be cool with all the fans out there following him,” he said. “It’s amazing for South African golf and I think all of us embrace it.”

Scores

199 - Graeme Storm 69 63 67

202 - Rory McIlroy 67 68 67

203 - Jordan L Smith 67 68 68, Jbe' Kruger 67 67 69

204 - Edoardo Molinari 71 70 63, Joel Stalter 69 70 65, Dean Burmester 67 70 67, Romain Langasque 70 66 68, Jaco Van Zyl 71 65 68, Peter Uihlein 70 64 70

205 - Richard S Johnson 69 70 66, Mikko Korhonen 72 66 67, Thomas Aiken 67 70 68, Keith Horne 66 69 70, Trevor Fisher Jnr 66 68 71

206 - Chris Hanson 71 69 66, David Drysdale 70 65 71, Laurie Canter 69 66 71

207 - Gary King 73 68 66, Alexander Bjork 68 71 68, Pontus Widegren 72 67 68, Oliver Fisher 68 69 70

208 - Justin Walters 69 72 67, Louis de Jager 77 64 67, James Morrison 70 72 66, Dawie Van der Walt 71 67 70

209 - Jeff Winther 69 70 70, Jacques Blaauw 72 70 67, Shaun Norris 69 69 71

210 - Daniel Brooks 69 71 70, Adrian Otaegui 71 69 70, Darren Fichardt 68 72 70, Jens Fahrbring 68 71 71, Jonathan Agren 73 69 68, Rourke van der Spuy 72 70 68, James Kingston 72 71 67, Lucas Bjerregaard 72 71 67

211 - Simon Dyson 69 71 71, Christiaan Bezuidenhout 70 70 71, Sebastian Soderberg 69 72 70, Mark Foster 68 70 73, Alexander Knappe 71 71 69

212 - Ulrich van den Berg 69 70 73, Brandon Stone 74 67 71, Jacques Kruyswijk 73 69 70, Adilson Da Silva 73 69 70, Thomas Detry 72 71 69, Rafa Echenique 73 70 69, Tom Lewis 72 71 69, Titch Moore 70 73 69

213 - John Parry 74 67 72, Stefan Engell Andersen 72 71 70, Ross McGowan 72 71 70, Pep Angles 72 71 70

214 - Paul Waring 70 70 74, Justin Harding 70 70 74, Steven Tiley 69 72 73, Michael Hollick 70 71 73, Danie van Tonder 73 69 72

215 - Garth Mulroy 71 71 73, Ockie Strydom 72 70 73, James Kamte 70 68 77, Morten Orum Madsen 75 68 72

216 - Espen Kofstad 73 67 76, Paul Maddy 71 69 76

217 - Niclas Fasth 70 73 74

221 - Andrew Georgiou 72 71 78

WD - Brett Rumford 69 68 WD

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