Ruan de Smidt fired his second successive six-under-par 64 to move to within one shot of the lead on Thursday in the R700,000 Sun Wild Coast Sun Challenge.
He trails first-round leader Jaco Ahlers who carded a four-under 66 to go with his opening 61, while Stephen Ferreira of Portugal and South Africans Danie van Tonder and Erik van Rooyen are a further stroke back in a share of third – Van Rooyen on the back of the low round of the day, an eight-under 62.
For De Smidt, who had his maiden win in 2012, and followed it with a second victory in November last year, it was about holding things together and trying to keep a bad round from sinking his chances of a third victory on the Sunshine Tour. ‘Most of the tournaments, I’ve had one bad round, but the rest has been pretty good,’ he said.
‘Last week, the first round was bad and then it was good from there. So I hope this week I can get three decent rounds in. I’ve played nicely over the last two days. I made a couple of putts finally – 30 putts today, and I hit it really well. It’s been building lately,’ he added.
He made three birdies and a bogey on his opening nine, and repeated the dose coming home – except the addition of an eagle to the mix saw him close the gap on Ahlers.
For the man in the lead, it is also a question of minimising the damage caused by a bad round. ‘Lately, I’ve been having one not-so-great round, and if this is my bad round, I couldn’t ask for more,’ said Ahlers.
He started his round with a bogey on the first and, although he regained that shot with a birdie on four, a double bogey on five put him on his heels. ‘Today wasn’t that good. My ball-striking wasn’t as good as yesterday. It just happens. We all have an off day at times,’ he said.
He followed that error with three consecutive birdies and his round was back on track. ‘I’d like to finish it off tomorrow. There’s a lot of golf to play, but I’d like to strike it a bit better, with a bit more control,’ he said.
De Smidt is also looking to close it out. ‘My confidence levels are pretty good for the final round,’ he said. ‘I just need to try and do the same as I’ve been doing for the last two days and another 64 would be awesome.’
127 – Jaco Ahlers 61 66
128 – Ruan de Smidt 64 64
129 – Erik van Rooyen 67 62, Stephen Ferreira 65 64, Danie van Tonder 62 67
131 – Doug McGuigan 63 68
132 – Madalitso Muthiya 64 68