CAPE TOWN – Darren Fichardt and Benajmin Follett-Smith share the lead going into Sunday’s final round of the Bain’s Whisky Cape Town Open at Royal Cape Golf Club, and each with a strong desire to turn the lessons of last year into an early victory in 2023.
Fichardt’s 62 in beautiful weather on Saturday equalled the course record of Andrew Georgiou, but with placing in effect. Northern Ireland’s Tom McKibbin also shot 62 in this tournament last year, and also with placing.
It was a magnificent round in which Fichardt was seven under through his first seven holes as he went out in 29, and it lifted the veteran campaigner to 13 under par overall. He was later joined there by Follett-Smith, the 2019 champion in this tournament, who signed for a 67 on Saturday.
They are one stroke clear of Dylan Mostert who carded a third-round 68, while Manuel Elvira and Jaco van Zyl ended the day on 11 under par.
Fichardt was delighted with a performance which he feels accurately reflects just how comfortable he feels with his game at present.
“I started with three consecutive birdies and I just carried that momentum and was in the zone. Then after the two birdies and an eagle I just felt like, ‘Here we go’. I had that tunnel vision. The swing was good and I knew if I was within 15 feet of the hole on the green I was putting well enough to have a chance. I just felt very comfortable and just let it happen,” he said, giving himself the perfect start to a year in which he has high hopes for his game.
“I had a very long year last year. I played 34 events out in Europe and travelled a lot and midway through the year I was burning out. But I learnt a lot about myself. I almost like to call it Summer Camp because I fixed a lot of areas of my game where I was struggling. I took a long break now in December and just carried that technique over to this year with a fresher mind. It’s pretty exciting. I’m looking forward to what lies ahead.”
Follett-Smith has been on a similar search for improvement and is looking forward to testing himself as part of the final group on Sunday.
“I’m very pleased with the way I played today. There was no wind so it was easier to attack the flags, and then I putted really well. I was trying to figure out why Darren was looking so cheerful on the eighth hole and then I found out he was seven under par through seven holes. I think that realisation pushed us all along. The better everyone is playing, the better you have to play. I like this golf course. You just need to have a good short game here and usually that’s where I’m strong,” he said. – Michael Vlismas