Hennie in front after eagle on 18
Hennie Otto eagled the 18th on the Montagu course at Fancourt Golf and Country Estate on Saturday to move into a share of the third-round lead of the R3.75-million Dimension Data Pro-Am.
If that sounds familiar, it was because the man with whom he shares the lead at 15-under-par is Jaco van Zyl, who made eagle on 18 on The Links in the second round to share the halfway lead with Otto!
“That eagle putt was about 100 feet,” joked Otto. “Actually, it was about 50 feet. I hit a great approach. I had about 250 to the pin and I hit a rescue. And if the wind hadn’t pushed it, I would have been closer to the pin – but if you hit that green in two, you can breathe again.”
It was a more difficult day around the three courses at Fancourt – players play a round on each of Montagu, Outeniqua and The Links, before the cut to 65 professionals and ties and the final round on Montagu – with only a handful of low rounds being recorded.
Best of those was the seven-under-par 66 by Vaughn Groenewald on the par-73 The Links which lifted him into a share of ninth, and the seven-under 65 by Dean O’Riley on Outeniqua which saw him climb into a share of 15th, seven off the pace.
Players like Van Zyl and Otto, who moved from The Links in the second round to Montagu for the third, found conditions different enough to cause some difficulty.
“It was a bit breezy out there,” said Otto, “and yesterday, at The Links, the greens were soft, and when we came to Montagu, they’d firmed up a bit, so it required different approach shots.”
And Van Zyl agreed. “It was a bit windier than it was on the first two days, and the greens at Montagu are pretty firm,” he said, “and they tucked quite a few flags away so it was hard to get close and give yourself the birdie chances.”
Despite the difficulties, Otto felt he played well. “I think I only hit one bad shot,” he said of his round which had two birdies to go with the eagle and two bogeys. “And the other bogey came from when I was in a bunker that hadn’t been raked.
“It was a solid day, and the last putt was meant to happen – I missed a lot of putts out there, but it’s always nice to lead a tournament,” he added.
He and Van Zyl have a one-stroke edge over England’s Daniel Brooks, who carded a five-under-par 68 on The Links, and he was in turn two clear of Trevor Fisher Jnr, who was furious at making bogey on 18 on Montagu to spoil what was shaping up to be at least a four-under-par round which became instead a three-under 69.
They are all in the hunt, however, and Otto, for one, is looking forward to it. “It definitely helps to have played Montagu today ahead of playing it again tomorrow,” he said. “I’ve got used to the pace of the greens and the way the course is playing.”