PRETORIA, Gauteng – Jaco van Zyl will go into the final round of the SunBet Challenge Time Square tournament at Wingate Park Country Club with a one-stroke lead, but he says whether he nets a 16th Sunshine Tour title on Friday depends on whether the same golfer that shot 68 and 66 in the first two rounds pitches up again on the third day of the R2 million event.
Van Zyl posted a brilliant six-under-par 66 in the second round on Thursday to climb to 10-under-par for the tournament, heading out in the afternoon and surpassing the superb 64 posted by Anthony Michael which lifted him to nine-under alongside JC Ritchie (68).
“It depends on who pitches up: the head-in-the-clouds me who just wants to fly, or the feet-on-the-ground me who is here to play golf. Fortunately the golfer in me has pitched up these first two days and I’m very excited about the final round,” Van Zyl said on Thursday.
“I will just take it hole-by-hole and see what the golfing gods have in store for us. This is one of those golf courses where if you are really on song then it feels easy, but if you are a bit off your game then it can really bite you.
“But I’m playing nicely and putting very well. It’s good to be in this position on this golf course because it has not treated me very well in the past. I’m very chuffed,” Van Zyl said.
South Africa’s 2016 World Cup of Golf representative said a tip from a fellow competitor earlier this week had helped alleviate the previous frustrations he has experienced on the greens at the Wingate course, while the help of a biokineticist has him feeling in rampant form physically.
“I’ve always battled on these greens but then Malcolm Mitchell said at the start of the week that I must just look at the grain because that plays a big role on these greens. I started doing that on Monday and it was a ton better already, and I’ve put in plenty of hard work on the greens to get it right.
“And my body is feeling unbelievable since I’ve started working with a biokineticist, Bianca Bloemhof. I’m just trying to save as many swings as I can, and I’ve been doing mostly maintenance, but my body moved like I was 22 again today,” the 44-year-old said.
Michael started his round on the 10th hole and started sedately with three straight pars, but then roared to nine-under-par in his next nine holes with eagles on the par-five 15th and second holes, as well as five birdies. His only dropped shot came on the par-four fourth hole, but his eight-under 64 is the low round of the tournament and he will be confident of being in with a shout of claiming his second Sunshine Tour victory after his breakthrough win at Highland Gate almost exactly a year ago.
Mitchell, Jaco Prinsloo and Rhys West are sharing fourth place on eight-under-par, while South Africa’s highest-ranked golfer, Thriston Lawrence, roared up the leaderboard to three-under-par with a 65 on Thursday.