Hoey five back as Hannah closes on maiden Challenge Tour title

by | May 9, 2021 | 0 comments

Michael Hoey (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)

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Michael Hoey’s even par third round 72 leaves him trailing five strokes behind the leaders as Chase Hanna looks to claim his first European Challenge Tour title after an eight-under par round of 64 earned him a share of the 54-hole lead at the Dimension Data Pro-Am.

Five-time Tour winner Hoey could only manage an even par effort as those around him made hay on moving day in George. With 42-year old Hoey trading four birdies and four bogeys to remain at 10-under par, American Hannah finished eagle-birdie at Fancourt Golf Estate to reach 15-under par and climb to the top of the leaderboard alongside overnight co-leader Jaco Ahlers, who birdied the last hole to post a bogey-free four under par round of 68 and join Hanna at the top.

The duo share a two-stroke advantage over Sweden’s Henric Sturehed and Stanislav Matus, of the Czech Republic, who are tied for third on 13 under par.

Heavy overnight rain meant scoring, on average, was not as low on the Outeniqua course as the first two days, however Hanna bucked the trend to post the low round of the day to join Ahlers in a share for the lead in the final event of the South African Swing, which is co-sanctioned by the Sunshine Tour.

“I played well,” Hanna said. “I had good control of my ball today. My ball striking was pretty average over the first two days but I’ve been putting pretty well all week, so I put together a nice round.

“I played awesome on the back nine. I’ve stayed patient pretty much all week. I knew a low nine holes was there and it happened to come today, so hopefully one more tomorrow or maybe even two good nine holes.

“There are a lot of tough holes where you just want to make par but then you’ve got about ten holes where you’ve got green lights and you should have a good look for birdie. I took advantage of those and played the tough ones well.

“It’s exciting. I haven’t been in contention out here so I’m just looking forward to the day. I’ll see how I handle it and hopefully just keep doing the same as the last three rounds.”

Ahlers, who won the 2018 edition of the Dimension Data Pro-Am, is pleased to be in with a chance of adding another crown to his collection, despite not holing as many putts as he would have liked.

“Unfortunately, the putter was very cold today, otherwise it would have been really nice,” he said. “I could have been a few ahead, but I’m still in the lead and two ahead of third, which is nice. I’ll just try and do the same thing again tomorrow.

“I went to see my coach on Monday, Peter Berman from Knysna, and we spoke about patience. I struggled in Limpopo with patience and last week as well because I couldn’t get it going and today was just about patience.

“I played really nicely and just didn’t make a putt. I missed a really short one on 17, which left a sour taste, but the patience kept me there and if I didn’t have patience, I probably wouldn’t have birdied the last hole.”

Daan Huizing, of the Netherlands, and South Africa’s Wilco Nienaber share fifth place on 12 under par, while South African George Coetzee, England’s Daniel Gavins, Swede Anton Karlsson and Denmark’s Niklas Nørgaard Møller all share seventh place on 11 under par.

The final round of the Dimension Data Pro-Am will be played on the Montagu course, with the action getting under way 7:45am local time. Leaders Ahlers and Hanna will be joined in the final group by Matus at 9:35am.

 

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