DAINFERN, Johannesburg – Jaco Ahlers, JJ Senekal and Ockie Strydom have set up a thrilling finale to the Stella Artois Players Championship as they head into Sunday’s final round in a three-way tie for the lead on 13 under par.
The trio are one shot clear of Estiaan Conradie and Rourke van der Spuy, while Luke Jerling produced a scintillating 62 to climb to 10 under par overall.
Senekal had a terrific run of four birdies and an eagle over the turn which carried him into a share of the lead as he signed for a 67. Ahlers produced a solid 69 to take his share of the lead, and Strydom – who led by two going into the third round – birdied the last for a 71 to keep himself in contention.
But apart from Jerling’s incredible round, it was a far tougher day of scoring at Dainfern than in the previous rounds.
“It was a lot windier and the greens have started firming up quite a bit. If you keep missing it on the wrong side of the flag you can have quite a difficult time,” said Ahlers.
As a nine-time winner on the Sunshine Tour, Ahlers is hoping his experience will make the difference in the final round.
“It’s always good to lead, but I feel like today could have been so much more different. I hit good putts but they just didn’t go in. I don’t think I need to look too much into it. I had four lip-outs and a few other putts that missed by fractions, so I’ll just put it down to being one of those days.”
Ahlers will be seeing out the Sunshine Tour season with this week’s tournament and then next week’s season-ending Tour Championship before he heads off to Korea for his Asian Tour duties.
“It’s a good two weeks these. If you do well you can jump a few places on the Order of Merit, although that number one spot (currently held by Shaun Norris) is pretty much out of our reach. But it’s a good two weeks to end the season with.” – Michael Vlismas