MJ Viljoen shot a six-under-par 64 at the SunBet Challenge on Thursday to go into the final round with a one-stroke lead.
Viljoen started his second round at the Wild Coast Country Club on the 10th hole and blazed his way to the turn in just 29 strokes, collecting six birdies, including three in a row from the 16th.
Although the strengthening of the wind meant his score of six under stayed where it was on his inward nine due to one bogey, on the par-three 6th, being cancelled out by a birdie on the par-five 7th, the Serengeti Golf Estate representative had still done enough to hold off the challenge of Keenan Davidse.
Viljoen is on 11 under for the tournament, while Davidse had a more up-and-down day, with five birdies, three bogeys and an eagle on the par-five 16th leaving with him an excellent 66 that lifted him to 10 under.
“I was solid all day and I didn’t make mistakes,” Viljoen said. “But I enjoyed my front nine a lot today, I was just hitting the ball so nicely and I felt in such control of things.
“And then I got a bit excited and the wind got up on my back nine and put me on the back foot a bit.
“But I’ve been struggling for a couple of years now and I just had to make a change last week because I was putting myself under so much pressure. So, I worked with a different coach in Dougie Wood, just for a different perspective.
“The change obviously paid off today, so I will stick with it. How I felt on the golf course was more favourable.”
Viljoen, who won his only Sunshine Tour title at the Sun Fish River Challenge in 2017, said his approach in Friday’s final round will be to try to replicate his outstanding form on holes 10 to 18 on Thursday.
“I was just focused on not making any mistakes, I hit the ball well and my putting and chipping were good, too. So I will go out in the final round and try to do what I did on the first two days.
“The big thing is I’m not worried about the outcome because I know I’ve improved, I’ve got something out of the last couple of weeks, and that’s more than enough for me. That gives me a head start, I reckon.”
Apart from Davidse, Martin Vorster and Jaco Ahlers are also chasing hard on nine under par after they both shot 65s on Thursday, and Madalitso Muthiya (68), Heinrich Bruiners (67), Casey Jarvis (66) and Christiaan Burke (65) are just three strokes back on eight under.
Overnight leader Jacques Blaauw had a tough time on Thursday and just could not get going, 16 pars and two bogeys leaving him with a 72 to slip down to six under par and a tie for 13th.