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15th June 2024

Viljoen chasing third Sunshine Tour title at Mopani Zambia Open

KITWE (Zambia) – MJ Viljoen may have wondered why his fortunes turned sour on the back nine, but the 29-year-old held his round together to take a one-stroke lead after the third and penultimate round of the Mopani Zambia Open at Nkana Golf Club on Saturday.

Viljoen was three-under-par for his round through eight holes on Saturday, but suffered four bogeys coming home. But he showed his mettle by birdieing the 16th and 17th holes to finish with a one-under-par 71 for nine-under-par overall.

Jacques P. de Villiers shot an excellent 68 on Saturday to move to eight-under-par, tied for second with Dayne Moore, who slipped back in the third round with a 74.

Conditions were more difficult on Saturday with the wind picking up around the woodlands course.

“The wind was up today and it kept me busy, especially on the back nine,” Viljoen said. “I almost turned three-under but I was unfortunate on nine. I hot two gorgeous shots but I unfortunately went three metres too far and the ball rolled down the back and from there it’s bogey all day.

“And then on 10 I just nicked a tree, which threw me into trouble. So I had two bad lies in a row and then I had a bad bounce long-right on 13. I just struggled to get momentum on the back nine. But otherwise I was going well and played some flawless golf.”

The Serengeti Estates golfer said positive things is what he will be focusing on going into the final round as he chases his third Sunshine Tour title and his first since September 2022 at the SunBet Challenge Wild Coast.

“I’m trying to look at all the good bounces I got rather than the bad ones and I won’t be changing anything in my game-plan. My mental coach, Shaun Landsberg, has been working with me on uysing bad thoughts to my advantage. Last week I had a breakthrough, I must just let go and let it happen. My focus is going to be on where my confidence is,” Viljoen said.