Wang in driv­ing seat

But South African Louis Oosthuizen seem­ingly folds un­der pres­sure and bo­geys last two holes

CityPress - - Sport -

Korean golf­ing rookie Je­unghun Wang has set an en­vi­able pace to lift the Ned­bank Golf Chal­lenge tro­phy when the fi­nal round of the $7 mil­lion (R100.36 mil­lion) spon­sored event con­cludes at the Gary Player Coun­try Club to­day.

This af­ter the 21-year-old player from Seoul put him­self in the driv­ing seat by open­ing a three­p­oint cush­ion when he carded a score of 11 un­der-par for 64, leav­ing South African Louis Oosthuizen reel­ing in his wake with an 8 un­der­par for 70 in sec­ond place, in a grip­ping third round of the Euro­pean Sun­shine Tour co­sanc­tioned event yes­ter­day.

Mak­ing his Sun City de­but, Wang, who com­petes on the Euro­pean and Asian tours, and has won only two events on the Euro­pean Tour this year, took early leader­board con­trol by sink­ing four birdies in the back nine in holes one, two, four and six. De­spite the sear­ing heat at the Sun City venue, Wang showed com­po­sure on the fair­way with a cal­cu­lated use of irons and long drives that made Oosthuizen some­what ner­vous, caus­ing the South African to com­mit silly putting mis­takes.

Wang’s best hole was the par five 10th hole, in which he scored an ea­gle when his long tee-shot landed im­pres­sively on the edge, leav­ing him with two putts.

Oosthuizen, win­ner of the 2010 Bri­tish Open, scored four birdies, but later made a fool of him­self when he bo­geyed the eighth and the last two holes – thereby bow­ing to the pres­sure placed on his shoul­ders by hun­dreds of his sup­port­ers, who were loudly cheer­ing him on while he was hit­ting shots.

Third in com­mand was English­man Andy Sul­li­van, who closed the pro­ceed­ings with un­der­se­ven for 68, with Mzansi’s top world-ranked golfer Bran­den Grace clos­ing his run the day on five un­der-par for 71. Win­ner of the Joburg Open (2012) and the Al­fred Dun­hill Cham­pi­onship (2012 and 2014), Grace strug­gled with his short play, which in­vari­ably cost him a num­ber of birdies. This showed when he blew three holes.

But with this tour­na­ment renowned for chang­ing lead­er­ship overnight, es­pe­cially on the last day of the show­down, some­body might just take the game by the scruff of the neck to set the pace. But from the way he ex­e­cutes his shots, Wang looks to be the man to beat to­day and take home the tro­phy that goes with the $1.6 mil­lion first prize.

Swe­den’s on-form player Hen­rik Sten­son, who is gun­ning for Race to Dubai vic­tory next week­end, had a luke­warm round that saw him tied sixth with South African Jaco van Zyl. With Sten­son hav­ing showed such re­mark­able form, the cool Swede might turn up the heat af­ter win­ning the con­test, and re­peat the magic that saw him con­quer the Ned­bank Golf Chal­lenge in 2008.

The glam­orous con­test has so far not failed to sparkle since it started on Thurs­day. A clas­sic case was on Fri­day when Paraguayan Fabrizio Zan­otti be­came the first golfer to score a hole-in-one at the con­test since its in­cep­tion 35 years ago.

The 35-year-old player stepped onto the par-three, 4th tee. He hit a tee-shot and his ball pitched about 3m be­fore the hole and rolled in, much to the joy of the deliri­ous fans in at­ten­dance at the pic­turesque venue.

So with the fi­nal round be­ing played to­day, some­thing ex­tra­or­di­nary might just hap­pen to mark the con­clu­sion of the show­piece. And Wang might just be the young­ster to reign supreme.

PHOTO: FELIX DLANGAMANDLA

GOT IT Je­unghun Wang from South Korea was in the pound seats at the end of day three of the Ned­bank Golf Chal­lenge at Sun City af­ter fir­ing a bril­liant eight-un­der-par 64 yes­ter­day

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