Caldwell just gets six holes in but moves into a share of the lead at NMB Championship

Mark McGowan

Jonathan Caldwell (Photo by Johan Rynners/Getty Images)

Mark McGowan

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Jonathan Caldwell spent a lot of time waiting around on Saturday at the co-sanctioned Sunshine and Challenge Tour’s NMB Championship in South Africa, but it was worth the wait as he’d moved into a share of the lead by the time darkness called a halt to third-round proceedings.

Heavy winds were forecast, but arrived stronger than expected, forcing a play suspension lasting six hours and 20 minutes, and due to go out in the penultimate round, Caldwell knew he’d have a long wait before taking to the tee, if at all.

He eventually did, getting underway at 18:55 local time, and managed to squeeze six holes in before darkness descended, but they were a profitable six holes as the Clandeboye man birdied the par-4 opener and par-3 sixth to move to -15 overall, ending the day tied for the lead alongside Australian Hayden Hopewell and England’s Lee Slattery who have nine and seven holes played respectively.

“It was a very lazy day,” he said. “I had a lot of hours on the sofa with a lot of Netflix but luckily I got out for a few holes when the wind dropped down and took advantage of it.

“I knew by the forecast that it was going to be a long day so I was mentally prepared and at one point I wasn’t expecting to be on the golf course. It was great to get out for a few holes and hopefully we can get back out in the morning.”

Assuming Mother Nature plays ball and the rest of round three and round four are playable, Caldwell is just 30 holes from capturing his first win in two-and-a-half years and setting down an early season marker in the race for promotion to the DP World Tour and he’s intending to stick to the formula that’s seen him move to the top of the board.

“Oh, just the same,” he replied when asked about the gameplan for a potential marathon final day, “just try and keep it on the fairways and give myself chances on the greens. And if we can make some putts the hopefully we’ll be there or thereabouts.”

There’s a chance that Gary Hurley and Dermot McElroy will have each other for company in the final round as they both shot matching two-under rounds of 70 having started the day tied at -4, two groups apart.

Hurley got two holes in before play was halted, bogeying the second in the gale-force wind, but came back out to cover the remaining 16 holes in three-under, firing six birdies along the way.

McElroy was on the first when the initial suspension came, and he returned to mix four birdies and two bogeys to join Hurley in the clubhouse at six-under, and should the final round see groupings of three, the two Irishmen should be grouped together as they were first and third into the clubhouse and lie in a provisional tie for 39th.

The 36-hole leading duo of Swede Björn Åkesson and South African Keenan Davidse are level-par and one-over through four holes respectively, leaving Åkesson one behind the leading trio alongside Frenchman Martin Couvra and Davidse is one of three tied for sixth at -13, two strokes behind Caldwell and co.


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