16th March 2016 | IGT Challenge Tour
Du Plessis and Franz deadlocked at Irene
TSHWANE, 16 March 2016 – Pretoria pro Russel Franz and CJ du Plessis from Limpopo took alternate routes to reach 15-under-par 201, but they finish the third round precisely where they started it – joint leaders in the IGT Tour’s Irene Championship on Wednesday.
The overnight pacesetters began the day at 12 under, and finished three shots clear of Breyten Meyer, Andre de Decker and Pieter Kruger.
Franz notched birdies at one, six and 18 for his 69, but Du Plessis was made to work much harder to overturn the damage of two wayward drives on the back nine.
But the Limpopo pro hit his tee shot out of bounds at 11 and dropped two shots and another bad tee shot at 14 cost him another shot.
Franz couldn’t convert some great irons shots on the back nine and left the door open for Du Plessis to fight his way back into the lead with a trio of birdies at 15, 16 and 17.
“I made a great chip-and-putt for birdie at 15, hit a 60 degree wedge to four feet at the short hole and made the birdie putt and two-putted from 20 feet at the par five for another birdie,” Du Plessis said.
“I hit 16 greens in regulation, so it was pretty frustrating to give three shots away in four holes. But that’s golf; bad shots happen. You just have to get over it really quickly and move on.”
Franz enjoyed the match play feel of the third round, and is looking forward to going toe-to-toe with Du Plessis for the lion’s share of the R66 600 on Thursday.
“I need to spend a little quality time with my putter this afternoon, because we just didn’t see eye to eye today,” Franz said.
“I should rather say that I didn’t see the lines at all and made the putter’s job really hard. I left so many putts in the throat and many just shaved the hole. The greens are rolling beautifully and true, so all the missed opportunities was definitely on me.”
Meanwhile Meyer mixed four birdies with a lone bogey for a 68 to join the three-way tie at 13 under with Kruger ,who also had a lone bogey on his way to a 70, and De Decker, who offset bogeys at seven and 12 with five gains for a 69.
De Decker claimed a wire-to-wire victory in the IGT Tour’s Centurion Open in his only start on the country’s premier development Tour in February and could be the dark horse to watch on Thursday.