BALLITO, KwaZulu-Natal – Richard Joubert played very good golf on the first two days of the SunBet Challenge hosted by Sun Sibaya to find himself on top of the leaderboard heading into Friday’s final round at the Umhlali Country Club.
Joubert shot a 67 in the first round and then on Thursday, in more difficult conditions, he posted a level-par 71 to sit at four-under-par for the tournament.
It is going to be a very competitive final round though, with five golfers – Ian Snyman (68), Luke Brown (70), Peter Karmis (68), Jared Harvey, whose 67 was the low round of the day, and JJ Senekal (68) – just one stroke back on three-under.
There are four more golfers on two-under, including overnight leader Dylan Naidoo, who took an eight on the par-five fifth on his way to a 74 on Thursday.
“My game is definitely feeling very good,” Joubert said. “It was definitely tougher out there today, the wind picked up and the flags were in more tricky positions too.
“The front nine is tough because the wind is mostly across the holes and very tough to read, while the back nine has some holes into the wind and some with the wind. And the wind direction is swirling so it’s tough to read.
“So my back nine was a bit more up-and-down, but I feel I can hit the shots and get a score out there,” Joubert said.
Back-to-back birdies on the fifth and the par-three sixth saw Joubert reach the turn in one-under 34, and he also birdied the par-five 10th, before a trio of bogeys snuck on to his card on the back nine.
So many potential challengers are lurking with 16 golfers within four strokes, but the pressure of trying to win his first Sunshine Tour title is probably the biggest threat to Joubert in the final round.
“I also led going into the final round of the Vodacom Origins of Golf Series at Humewood last year, but there was a lot of rain, it was hard golf and I did not hit the shots I wanted to,” Joubert said.
“But I learnt how I need to compose myself in a final round, and then two weeks ago at the Fortress Invitational at Ebotse I shot 69 in the final group on the final day.
“So I’ve had my first couple of top-10s on tour in the last couple of months and now it’s all about keeping my mind calm and playing good golf in the final round,” the 28-year-old Joubert, who represents Waterkloof Golf Club, said.