Sun City - Jaco van Zyl was wayward off the tee on a number of occasions on Saturday, but he was imperturbable as he held a three-stroke lead after the third round of the Investec Cup.
His three-under-par 69 was enough to keep Garth Mulroy who carded a 67, and Justin Walters who signed for 68 in his wake as he seemed set to sail serenely to a second title in two weeks after his Telkom PGA Championship victory last week.
“In this game you’ve got to take the good with the bad,” he said, “and if your approach is good about it then the result won’t be that bad.
“And I had a couple of really wayward tee shots on the first couple of holes and I managed to make par from there. I guess I’ll try and hit a little straighter tomorrow,” he added.
Mulroy and Walters can be forgiven if they feel the chase in the final round will be a little quixotic, but they both rallied on a scorching day on the Lost City Golf Course.
“I gave myself a lot of chances, but I didn’t make a whole lot,” said Mulroy, who squandered two early birdies with consecutive bogeys on eight and nine. “I deserved a bogey on nine, but on eight, I hit a good shot and just got the wind wrong.
“But Jaco’s playing well. He’s not going to make any doubles - maybe a bogey here and there, but on this course, there are plenty of birdie chances,” he added.
Walters started the third round four back of Van Zyl, and cut one stroke from that lead. “It’s very rare when Jaco van Zyl is involved,” he said. “Every time you think he may do something to help you out a little bit, it doesn’t happen. He doesn’t make many mistakes, and he gets up and down when he does, so he really forces you to make the move.”
Examples of Van Zyl’s ability to bounce back came on the 369-metre fifth where he pulled his tee shot into thick rough in a lateral hazard. His recovery was played over the green, but his chip to the pin was exquisite and he had a tap-in putt for par.
On the par-five 18th, he found himself with a downhill lie in a greenside trap after his second. He kept the ball on the grass, just short of the water with his third, left his chip a little short, but made the pressure two-footer for par.
He’s now a shoo-in for the winner’s share of the Chase to the Investec Cup Bonus Pool, which is R2m of the R5m up for grabs for the top 30 players competing in this final event after 14 tournaments beginning with last October’s BMG Classic.
The competition for top-10 positions is now the interesting one, with Walters lying in a projected seventh spot after starting the week at 18th, and Jean Hugo has jumped from 25th to 10th after his third-round 69.
So chasing Van Zyl is not the only thing to do in the final round, but the leader remains imperturbable. “I know what I’ve got to work with for tomorrow,” said Van Zyl.
Scores after the third round of the Investec Cup at Sun City on Saturday:
199 - Jaco van Zyl 66 64 69
202 - Garth Mulroy 66 69 67, Justin Walters 64 70 68
204 - Jean Hugo 65 70 69
205 - Hennie Otto 69 67 69
206 - Trevor Fisher Jnr 74 66 66
207 - Jake Roos 68 72 67, Ulrich van den Berg 70 70 67, Colin Nel 71 65 71
208 - Keith Horne 69 71 68
209 - James Kingston 71 69 69
210 - Danie van Tonder 73 71 66, Richard Sterne 72 70 68, Chris Swanepoel 72 69 69, Vaughn Groenewald 70 70 70, Merrick Bremner 72 68 70
211 - Dean Burmester 72 69 70
212 - Darren Fichardt 75 69 68, Desvonde Botes 73 71 68, Doug McGuigan 71 70 71
213 - Jaco Ahlers 77 72 64, Louis de Jager 71 72 70, Christiaan Basson 71 70 72
215 - Ruan de Smidt 75 67 73
216 - PH McIntyre 72 71 73, Tyrone Ferreira 74 68 74
217 - Wallie Coetsee 75 70 72
219 - Oliver Bekker 76 72 71, Matthew Carvell 75 73 71
222 - Allan Versfeld 77 70 75