Donaldson rises to the Challenge

by Golfer on

 

The questions were asked of Jamie Donaldson in Saturday’s third round of the Nedbank Golf Challenge, and the Welshman had all the answers. Donaldson took a three-stroke lead into Saturday and had to defend it against several challenges before ending the day still three clear of the field. A 67 featuring only one bogey will take him into the final round at 16 under par, with his nearest challengers being Thomas Bjørn and Ryan Moore on 13 under.

Bjørn signed for a 66, the joint low round of the day, and Moore produced a solid 67. Henrik Stenson made an early move and closed to within two shots of Donaldson. Moore also got to within two shots of Donaldson when he birdied the tough par-four eighth hole. Then Bjørn chipped in for an eagle on 10 to close to within one of the leader. But Donaldson kept responding, and he did so most emphatically with birdies at 10, 11, 14 and 15.

Stenson stumbled with a double bogey on the par-five ninth, but responded well with three birdies in four holes thereafter to finish with a 69 and on 11 under par.
As both Bjørn and Moore kept pushing, Donaldson made his first mistake when he bogeyed the 17th. “It’s hard work out there even when you’re playing well. Every hole is difficult and you can’t sit back for a minute. You’ve got to stay in the present,” he said.

It was a bogey that still left him with a three-shot lead at the end of day three. And yet the European Tour winner is not planning on defending this on Sunday.
“I’m looking forward to the final round. It will be a tough day on a difficult golf course. And this is one of the best fields in the world. A three-shot lead doesn’t mean much here.

You’ve got to go out there and play really good golf. “I’ll continue to play as aggressive as I can. I have to, because somebody can come out and birdie the first three holes and I make par and suddenly there is no lead.” Moore certainly agrees with the leader’s assessment of what lies ahead. “No lead is safe here. All of us here are great golfers and capable of making plenty of birdies.”

Ernie Els battled his way to a 77 for a total of seven over par. But his out-of-sorts day could’ve been explained by the news of his former coach Jos Vanstiphout passing away. “I’ll play with a heavy heart today,” Els said in a statement before the start of Saturday’s round. “Jos really understood me and what made me tick, which was of course one of the many rare gifts that he possessed. We made a good team for a number of years. He was a person with talent and integrity, a good man. I send my thoughts and prayers to his family at this difficult and emotional time. He was a true friend and I’ll miss him.”

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