Bekker in control at Zamibia Open

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Oliver Bekker
  • Post published:April 29, 2017

Oliver Bekker kept bogeys off his card as he stretched to a four-stroke lead, ahead of the final round of the Zambia Sugar Open at Lusaka Golf Club.

Bekker was on 18-under after 54 holes as he made four birdies and an eagle during a round which featured a lot of scrambling, and his six-under-par 67 on the par-73 Lusaka layout gave him that substantial edge over Jared Harvey, who carded a one-under 72 after starting the third round in a share of the lead.

‘Today was scrappy, to say the least,’ he said, ‘and I still managed to come out of it with six-under-par. I got lucky up-and-downing pretty much on every hole – it felt like that, anyway.

‘On my good stretch from 10 to 14, I missed three of the five greens today, but I got lucky. I made eagle on 13, I made birdie on 10, and I made a great up-and-down on 14 for par … but by-and-large, I capitalised on the par-fives – that’s basically what kept me going.’

He started the day with a gesture of confidence: While virtually nobody else took driver off the first tee, Bekker pulled it from his bag and smacked his tee shot into the middle of the fairway. ‘I’ve been hitting driver off the first every day,’ he said. ‘I’ve hit the fairway twice and I actually made birdie the one time I missed it.

‘I’ll use it again tomorrow, I think. It suits me because I know I’m not going to hit it left, so I can aim it up the left and just let it slide, and normally it’s pretty good,’ he added.

That kind of start was significant because the front nine at Lusaka has been giving all the players a bit of a headache, and his closest contenders all battled on that section of the course today while he turned in two-under. Co-leaders Stephen Ferreira and Jared Harvey were each two-over for the first nine, while Rhys West opened with a double bogey on one and only managed to claw one shot back by the time he reached the turn.

‘It was very important to go bogey-free there,’ said Bekker. ‘I really scrambled well, which I’m very happy about, because in the first two rounds, I only missed four greens and I was six-over on those holes. Today, I missed seven or eight greens and I didn’t make a bogey.’

In that kind of mood, Bekker is going to be tough to catch in the final round, and must be close to grabbing his fifth Sunshine Tour title.

Photo: Warren Little/Gallo Images