Colourful Colin celebrates in style
The Lion of Africa Cape Town Open was blown wide open as two calamitous double-bogeys on the back nine for overnight leader Mark Williams reduced his advantage to just one stroke as he fell back towards the chasing pack.
One of the men who made a significant charge on Williams’ lead was birthday boy Colin Nel. The Pietermaritzburg club professional carded a polished bogey-free round of 68 to move to seven-under for the tournament to claim sole possession of second place, and he was understandably pleased with his efforts on the afternoon that he celebrates his 29th birthday.
“It was a grind. My goal today was to try and come out and not make a bogey and I managed to do it. The last two holes tested me, but I’m happy with it and I’ll take it.
“Even a blind squirrel finds an acorn,” Nel joked. “I said I’d be happy with two or three-under, so to finish four-under today was just the cherry on top.”
Three successive birdies after the turn were the catalyst for Nel’s impressive score, and, despite a few nervy moments coming in, the colourfully-clad man from Kwa-Zulu Natal finds himself right where he wants to be.
“Looking at the leaderboard I’ve got a chance, but Mark is playing well this week and it will be tough to beat him.
“I had a few nerves – I suppose you have to though. I felt it coming down the stretch today, but those two up-and-downs at the end settles them and makes it positive for tomorrow,” said Nel.
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For Williams, it will be immensely disappointing to head into the final round with just a one stroke lead as he led by as much as six at one point in the round. The big man from Modderfontein appeared to be in control for much of the day and his calm demeanour had him on course to head into the final round with a commanding lead. However, two double-bogeys on the 14th and 17th holes forced him to settle for a 75.
“I hit two bad shots and they cost me. The difference was that in the first two rounds I managed to get away with bogeys there and I holed some more putts for birdie. But I’m feeling really good about it and excited to come out tomorrow,” he said.
Leading a major Sunshine Tour event is still a novel experience for the 28 year-old, but he had the aura of a man in control of his emotions and is simply enjoying what has still been a wonderful week thus far.
“I was comfortable out there. It’s so nice to have the support of the crowd – everybody cheering you on – and that really helped. Playing with Dean (Burmester) was great too, we’re good friends and it just keeps the spirits up.
“If someone had said to me that I’d be one shot in the lead going into the final round I would have taken it. I’m still happy and confident, and if a few putts go in tomorrow I’ll be right up there,” said an upbeat Williams.
Cape Town-local Christiaan Basson posted a turbulent round of 70 to put himself in third place on his own at six-under, while Keenan Davidse and Jake Roos share fourth place a further stroke adrift. And with five more players in contention at four-under, Williams’ grasp on the trophy will be put through the sternest of tests tomorrow as the Cape winds look set to rear their head for a fourth successive day.