ST FRANCIS (Eastern Cape) â€“ Steve Surry will take a two-stroke lead into Sundayâ€™s final round of the South African PGA Championship at St Francis Links, and is looking to become the first Englishman to win this championship since it became a stroke play event.
With a limited number of fans looking on as the Sunshine Tour welcomes back spectators to its events, Surry climbed to 13 under par overall with a third round of 67. South Africaâ€™s Luca Filippi and Albert Venter are chasing him on 11 under par after they both signed for rounds of 67.
Only seven foreigners â€“ excluding Zimbabwean golfers â€“ have managed to win the South African PGA Championship since 1965, when it moved from being a match play event to a stroke play tournament. And there isnâ€™t an Englishman amongst them.
â€œI wouldâ€™ve thought one of the English boys wouldâ€™ve snuck in there already,â€ said Surry. â€œBut if I am able to win it, it would be great in terms of the stature of this tournament in South African golf. Iâ€™ve been coming out to play on the Sunshine Tour for years now and I love it here. It feels like a second home for me. And in my off time I spend a lot of time with friends in Gqeberha and St Francis. It was great to play in front of crowds again and see some familiar faces from around here. This is probably the closest Iâ€™ll get to a home event outside of England.â€
Surry led the first round with an impressive 63 but then struggled in the wind on day two with a 73. But on Saturday, with the course once again in a forgiving mood, the Englishman surged ahead with a fantastic start of six under through this first six holes, including four birdies and an eagle.
â€œYou canâ€™t really ask for a better start than that. The course played a lot easier than the second round where there was a little bit of wind. It doesnâ€™t take a lot of wind to make this course very tricky.â€
Fellow Englishman Robin Williams joins European Tour champion Dean Burmester just three shots off the lead. Former South African PGA Championship winner Louis de Jager wouldâ€™ve been in that group as well were it not for a double bogey on the 18th.