SOUTH Africa’s Jean Hugo yesterday put up a virtuoso performance to sink nine birdies that earned him a one-stroke shared lead of the Mopani Copper Mines Zambia Open Golf Championship with compatriot Wallie Coetsee ahead of today’s final lap.
Carding a 64 on the day, Hugo, an active cricket all-rounder and rugby fly half as a teenager, went 14-under 71, 67, 64, 202 to set an interesting final round with Coetsee. They are a stroke ahead of Danie van Tonder and Theunis Spangenberg.
“All in all, I played solidly, putted well and had a bit of luck on my side today. Sunday will be different. If you fall a few shots behind, then you have to attack, if not then you steady the ship and try to play like I have over the last few days,” he said as he aims to claim his 15th Sunshine Tour title.
His last win was at Vodacom Origins of Golf Langebaan in 2013 and it has been 10 months since the prolific golfer lifted the trophy and if anyone knows how to win this week’s US $250,000-rich tournament, he should be the one.
Coetsee, who last won in 1997 and has been a Sunshine Tour journeyman for 17 years, has carded rounds of 65, 69, 68 for the shared lead.
“I’m excited to be in contention this week and hopefully I can produce something in the 60s and have a good chance tomorrow afternoon,” Coetsee, who once worked as a waiter to raise extra cash while studying at University of Stellenbosch, said.
Spangenberg’s course record-setting 10-under 62 handed him the championship lead on the first day before his native Coetsee closed in on day two with the unchanged 10-under and now it is Hugo ahead.
Although he started with a birdie on number one, Hugo posted bogeys on three and four but recovered in time to pick an eagle on the fifth hole and raced for birdie, par birdie, birdie to conclude the first nine holes for a four-under.
He went on to garner more points with five birdies on the back nine but dropped a point on the final hole to end 14-under with Coetsee still on the course and three strokes behind.
Coetsee, who last won a competition 17 years ago, had three consecutive birdies on 15, 16 and 17 and a last-hole par to remain in contention for the hefty first prize cheque.
Zambia’s Dayne Moore had a steady game in his third round play, carding a two-under and is four-under 212. The Zambian bogeyed just on his first hole before a calm finish for a birdie on number two but the short par three continues to haunt Moore as he had a bogey for the second straight day of the championship on the third hole. On Friday, Moore shot one-over on the hole.
He went on to collect two birdies on numbers five and nine to close his front course play on one-over and returned to the back nine to sink a birdie on the 12th hole and had pars until the number 18.
“I think I hit the ball better than the last two days. I’ m playing to enjoy it for myself,” he said.
Allan Versfeld, the hole-in-one- hero, had bogey free third round game with seven birdies on the day, two of which came on the front of the club house on number two and four before adding to jump into the top 10 with a point each on 11, 12, 13 15 and 17. He shares the sixth place with 2012 champion Justin Harding and CJ du Plessis on 10-under 206.
Brazil’s Adilson da Silva watched the title slip away as he could only manage a two-under in the third round and a combined three-under 70 73, 70, 213 as he Is 10 strokes behind Hugo.
The championship ends today and Vice-President Guy Scott is expected to be guest of honour.
Story by CHISHALA MUSONDA
Zambia Daily Mail.