South African favourite Branden Grace and enigmatic Frenchman Victor Dubuisson have Scott Jamieson in their sights as they go into the final round of the Nedbank Golf Challenge, but both chasers say they have game-plans for Sunday that they will not change whatever happens on the leaderboard.
Jamieson, patient and persistent, kept plugging away on Saturday and eventually claimed the lead from Dubuisson with a 40-foot, curling birdie putt on the 13th hole.
The Scotsman birdied the next hole as well and then parred his way home for a bogey-free round of five-under-par 67 for eight-under overall and a one shot lead over Dubuisson.
The Frenchman had an up-and-down day with four birdies and three bogeys, his 71 lifting him to seven-under overall.
Grace produced one of the best rounds of the day – a four-under-par 68 – to climb to five-under-par overall and vaulting into a tie for third with 2012 champion Martin Kaymer, who fired an impressive 69.
Grace was one of the players overtaken last year by Alex Noren’s sensational 63 in the last round, eventually finishing in a tie for third seven strokes back, and he says he’s hoping to have a similar final day as the Swede did in 2016.
“I’m three shots behind so to catch up I need to push, and hopefully I can pull an Alex in the final round. But you can’t try to do anything different because that’s when you can kinda mess it up. You have to stick to the same game-plan and routines, stick to your guns.
“You need to know where you can push and you have to stay patient. You can still attack quite a few greens if you’re aggressive off the tee, and I used Driver a lot, which means you go in with a wedge or a gap-wedge. But if you’re less aggressive off the tee then it’s tougher because you’re going for smaller targets with longer irons,” Grace said.
“Of course I am thinking about winning, but I have a lot of work to do tomorrow. But I will just focus on playing my best and not making mistakes. I will be looking at the leaderboard, of course, but I have a strategy in my head and I will try and keep it,” Dubuisson said.
“This is one of my favourite courses, I always seem to play well here, but I play it very strategically, I play it with my brain. You don’t want to make more than a bogey and one-under-par is still a good score on this really tough course.”
Grace has been particularly impressive on the back nine all week and he was 12-under-par overall for the inward loop when he stood on the 18th tee on Saturday.
But a wayward drive into the bushes resulted in the first shot he has dropped on the back nine all tournament.
The 29-year-old couldn’t go for the green with his second, having to lay up, and his third finished on the bank to the right of the flag. His delicate chip for par very nearly went in, but Grace had to sign for a bogey to end a fantastic round.
“The bogey at 18 was disappointing, it was my only poor shot off the tee all day. But I’m a grinder and even after yesterday’s 42 on the front nine, I knew if I could still finish with an under-par total then I was still in it. It was mind over matter and I’ve given myself a chance,” Grace said.