American Max Homa admits that seeing the names of the winners of this event on the walkway that leads to the ninth green makes him determined to add his on there as well.
“Every day we walk up the ninth and they have the plaques of everyone who’s won here, and the names are impressive,” said Homa after his third-round 69 for the lead on 13 under par.
He is one stroke clear of Frenchman Matthieu Pavon who added a 70 on another day of intense heat at Sun City’s Gary Player Country Club. Nicolai Højgaard and Thorbjørn Olesen are both on 11 under par, with defending champion Tommy Fleetwood going into the final round on seven under.
But while in the future there stands the famous crystal trophy of ‘Africa’s Major’ for the winner on Sunday, it’s to the past that Homa has had his eye on over these last three days. In particular, the names of past champions Johnny Miller, Seve Ballesteros, Bernhard Langer, Ian Woosnam, Nick Price, Nick Faldo, Ernie Els, Sergio Garcia and, most notably for him, Jim Furyk.
Furyk was the last American champion here at Sun City in 2006.
“It would be amazing to add my name to the tradition that’s been here,” said Homa, who has done a superb job of slowly acclimatising to a golf course he is playing for the first time and on the back of perhaps the least tournament preparation he’s ever had following a lengthy break.
After what he described as a “scrappy” start to his third round, Homa started to find his rhythm and then clicked into something truly special on the par-five 10th hole when he chipped in from the bunker for eagle.
“That was big because I felt like I had been hitting some really good shots and not capitalising. I felt like nothing was going my way, so to have that one go in felt like a nice boost. It was one of those fun ones where at about 12 feet out you feel it just can’t miss.”
Behind him, Pavon is still feeding off the confidence of his maiden DP World Tour win in October.
“My confidence is high. The game feels good and now I’m competing against some of the best players in the world, so all I can do is give it my all in the final round.”
And Homa will do the same, reminding himself of the history of this great event as he looks to make history of his own.