SERENGETI ESTATES, Kempton Park – Jaco Ahlers did what he does so well in a challenging third round of the Tour Championship at Serengeti Estates on Saturday. He had a braai the night before the third round, and then he took on a strong wind and a chasing Casey Jarvis and held them both at bay.
A solid 69 kept Ahlers in the lead of this season-ending Sunshine Tour event on 16 under par. Jarvis fought hard for a 71 to remain his nearest challenger on 11 under par, and Pieter Moolman – who finished second in this event last year – moved into third place on seven under with a 71 of his own.
Ahlers’ 18 years of Tour experience certainly counted on Saturday, and it showed as he birdied two of his final three holes for that five-stroke lead.
“It was windy and it was tough. I am very happy with that finish,” said Ahlers.
“Patience was key. It was hard out there. I wasn’t striking my driver very well. It was going straight but I just didn’t feel I was putting a good strike on it. My putter was also cold on the front nine, but then came together on the back. This is a course I like a lot and which I play often, and it helped today. Especially coming down the stretch where there are some pin positions and chip shots where that knowledge helped immensely.”
Jarvis birdied the first to suggest he was going to keep Ahlers busy on Saturday. But Ahlers responded with a birdie at the second and then just focused on his own game.
“I did see the scoreboard every now and then but just played my own game. I’ll do the same in the final round and just stay in my own space. I’ve played this golf course enough to know there are a few birdies out there and you just need to remain patient.”
Jarvis finds himself in contention for the second week in succession on the Tour and was pleased to have come through a tough day when his putter wasn’t quite on form, but with a shot at victory still within sight.
“It was a proper grind out there but I did that pretty well. I just tried to stay patient and I’m very happy to have kept myself in the hunt for the final round.” – Michael Vlismas