Sweden’s Moa Folke holed out for an eagle on Friday on the par-four 18th at Modderfontein Golf Club to grab a two-shot lead in the €300,000 Joburg Ladies Open.
The Dimension Data Ladies Pro-Am winner Folke made eight birdies and two bogeys before the eagle to post an eight-under-par 65.
Halfway leader Nicole Broch Estrup of Denmark, who had a two-under-par 71, slipped second on 10 under ahead of the final round of the tournament co-sanctioned by the Sunshine Ladies Tour and the Ladies European Tour.
“I played really well today, I’m very happy,” said Folke. “The wind is a little bit different today, so I was quite nervous on the tee shot on 18, not knowing the wind, and then I got in the rough.
“I got a really good lie, though. I was in between clubs but then I just picked one and hit it and it looked really good and to see it go in is such a fun feeling. My putter definitely helped, I putted really well but I’ve also given myself a lot of chances today, so overall it was great.”
It was a quiet start for Folke as she opened moving day with a birdie on the 1st, followed by two pars and then her first bogey on the 4th. She redeemed that dropped shot immediately and made three birdies in the next four holes to turn in three-under 34.
She picked up another birdie on the 10th and dropped her second shot on the 12th. Unfazed, she made three more birdies on her way home, and followed those with the wonderful closing shot on 18.
Estrup, who had a superb 66 to take the 36-hole lead, was inevitably a little more subdued in the third round.
“I feel like two under today was pretty good, it could have been a little bit lower if I had putted better,” she said. “I didn’t feel like I putted bad; just more that I didn’t roll anything in. If a few more had dropped it would have been a really good day.
“I would really love to come out on top tomorrow. I feel like I’m ready for it. It will be hard, and it will be tough, but I’m more ready than I have been. I feel like I’ve learned a lot the past couple of weeks and even today about myself and how to handle myself. I’m looking forward to tomorrow, it will be a good challenge.”
One shot behind the second-placed Estrup was Klara Davidson Spilkova of the Czech Republic, who signed for a three-under-par 70 to reach nine-under-par, three off the lead.
She said, “I was very solid today and I was just waiting for the putts to go in and fortunately it did on the last hole, but I was just trying to stay patient out there.
“I feel very good about tomorrow, this is what we work for to be in the final groups. I’m excited and maybe a little nervous as always, but that’s good. I’m just going to stay patient, trust myself and trust the process and see what happens.”
The leading South African heading into the closing round was Sunshine Ladies Tour rookie Kiera Floyd, who had a six-under-par 67 with an eagle, seven birdies and three bogeys to move to seven under and a share of fourth.
The leading amateur in the Investec South African Women’s Open last year, Floyd finished second in the Cape Town Ladies Open in brutal weather at Atlantic Beach Links a fortnight ago, showing she has the mental strength to withstand the pressure of the big stage.
The 18-year-old has played regularly at Modderfontein for most of her golfing life, and she used that to her advantage.
“I have played this course since I was about seven years old,” she said. “I know this course like the back of my hand.
“The eagle on 13 was a pretty good eagle, I must say. I hit a good drive down the middle and I had about 115 and I hit it to about 20-foot and I just made the putt. I felt good over it. I left a few birdie putts out there, but I’m happy with the progress I made today. I’m just going to go out there and experience everything tomorrow. It’s all new to me and there are really no expectations towards anything. If I just stick to the game plan that I did today, I think I will do well.”
For Folke, the win in the Dimension Data Pro-Am has freed her up.
“I have gained so much confidence,” she said of her victory at Fancourt last month. “Getting to win a few weeks ago on the Sunshine Ladies Tour gave me so much confidence knowing I can play well and to prove that I can play well today was extra special.
“I think I’m going to be nervous tomorrow, but it is so much fun to be in this position. I have been in this position once before and it didn’t go so well. I feel like I’m a better player now so I’m looking forward to tomorrow. After I was in this position last time, I worked really hard on my short game and my long game has gotten better so I feel I’m better prepared this time.”