Martin Couvra fired a superb third round of 67 to put one hand on the South African Stroke Play Championship, played at Mount Edgecombe’s The Lakes course.
The Frenchman, who is one of the top-ranked players in the field at 92nd on the World Amateur Golf Ranking, takes a four-stroke lead into the final round, leading a cosmopolitan chasing pack that features players from Ireland, Scotland, India and host country South Africa.
“I had a good day of ball striking,” the 19-year-old said. “Yesterday was more of a struggle but I played well today, and I was happy to see some putts drop.”
Ireland’s Joshua Hill, Scotland’s Matthew Wilson and reigning GolfRSA Champion of Champions JP van der Watt, from Humewood Golf Club, share second spot on five under par and have plenty of work to do if they want to overhaul the flying Frenchman.
“It is great to have a four-shot lead, but I can’t worry about what is happening behind me,” said Couvra. “I need to concentrate on my own game.
“This is a difficult golf course, with lots of trouble if you stray off line. The key is to keep the ball in play and hit the fairways and greens on the par threes and fours, and then attack the par fives.”
The game plan seems to be working and, over the first three rounds, Couvra is a combined 10 under par on the par fives.
Scotland’s Gregor Graham, who finished third in last week’s African Amateur, and South African Jordan Burnand lie in tie-fifth place on four under, one stroke ahead of a pack of five players that includes Ireland’s Matthew McClean, India’s Shaurya Bhattacharya and local trio Tyron Davidowitz, Conner Mackenzie and Jono Broomhead.
Defending champion and South Africa’s No 1-ranked Broomhead made the biggest charge up the leaderboard on moving day, firing a blemish-free round 65 to move from a tie for 37th at the halfway stage to a tie for seventh.
After a slow start, the KwaZulu-Natal local sits six shots off the lead will likely need another low round to have a chance of repeating his 2022 win.
“It’s always nice to have a bogey-free round,” he said. “For the first two days I was struggling with my iron play, but I managed to get that right today and didn’t hit too many bad shots out there. The key was that I got the momentum going early and then managed to keep it steady and the birdies came.”
The Durban Country Club golfer fired three birdies on the trot from the 3rd, and made another string of three after the turn. A final birdie on the 17th boosted him into the top 10.
“I’ll need another low one tomorrow, but I’m feeling confident about my game and if I can keep playing the way I did today, then I might have a chance.”
With bad weather expected to hit the final round of the South African Stroke Play Championship, the chasing pack will feel that they have a chance of reeling the runaway leader. For Couvra, destiny lies in his own hands.