Johannesburg - Several players tried to make a hard charge at the lead on the third day of the Lion of Africa Cape Town Open on Saturday, but Hennie Otto maintained his grip on the R1.5-million event to keep his bid for the final spot into the 2014 Nedbank Golf Challenge alive.
Although the overnight leader struggled with his swing on a very blustery day at Royal Cape Golf Club, the gritty three-time European Tour winner scrambled brilliantly for a one under 71 and a share of the 54-hole lead with Danie van Tonder on 12-under-par 204.
Otto carried a two shot lead into the third round over Van Tonder, Titch Moore and Thomas Aiken.
The 38-year-old Anahita golfer kept control with three pars and a birdie at the par-four second, but squandered his advantage with back-to-back bogeys at the fifth and sixth.
Moore fell away after a double bogey six at the par-four sixth, Van Tonder traded two bogeys for birdies to stay at nine under, but the stumble on the front nine opened the door for Aiken.
The three-time European Tour winner bogeyed the first, but recovered with birdies at the third and seventh to join Otto at 10 under through seven holes.
Otto's challengers upped the ante on the back nine.
Van Tonder closed the gap with birdies at the 11th, 14th and 17th to sign for a three under 69 and set the target at 12 under 204.
Back-to-back bogeys at the 14th and 15th sent Aiken back to nine under, but the three-time European Tour winner rallied with a birdie at the 16th and closed with a 71.
Meanwhile IGT Tour graduate Rhys West joined the chase.
The Sunshine Tour rookie racked up successive birdies at the 15th and 16th and parred the 18th for a 70 and a share of third with Aiken on 10 under.
Otto was consistency personified with seven straight pars from the eighth hole as the South-easterly wind picked up speed.
He responded to the challenge with a brace of birdies at the 15th and 16th. However, a poor tee shot into the trees at the 17th derailed his effort to finish the day in front.
Although deep in the trees, Otto had a line to the green and hit a low five-iron to get back on the fairway, but the ball burrowed in the thick rough.
He had to punch out from the sticky stuff and this time, Otto caught the front edge of the green. His chip shot rolled seven feet past the cup, but Otto made the pressure putt for bogey.
At the 18th, he left himself a tough approach over the bunker at the 18th and was forced to play for the open side of the green. He lagged the first putt close and tapped in for par.
Having survived the bumpy ride, Otto intends to come out guns blazing on Sunday.
"If the wind starts blowing on this golf course then it comes down to patience," said Otto.
"I tried to stay focused and continue repeating my good processes, because I knew there were a few birdies coming home.
"I know what I want to do tomorrow(Sunday), but it would have been nice to have two more shots to work with. But it's a new day when you wake up and you've just got to get out there and try to play your best golf." Meanwhile Moore rallied with two birdies in the last three holes to get back to nine under and will tee off in the company of David Drysdale, after the Scotsman fired a 68.
George Coetzee took advantage of an early tee time to sign for a flawless 66 and leads the bus at eight under 208.