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Jones remains the man to beat

20 May 2011

Kevin Sharp moved to within one shot of the leader


EAST LONDON (19 May 2011) – Denis Jones endured nine holes of sheer frustration before his game fell into place, but the 60-year-old managed to wrangle a slender one shot lead going into Friday’s final round of the South African Mid-Amateur Stroke Play Championship, sponsored by Volvo.

The local favourite retained his edge with a seven-over-par 80 but had to battle the attentions of second-placed Kevin Sharp, a strong west wind and pelting rain at the par-73 layout at East London Golf Club.

Jones will start his wire-to-wire winning campaign on even-par 219 while Sharp lurks a shot behind after carding a 76. Sean Coetzee and John Kew also kept in touch with the lead. Coetzee carded a 75 to finish three off the pace with Kew a shot back on 223 after a 76.

“I can’t blame anyone because it was all my own doing,” Jones admitted. “I hit a flyer at the first, started with a double bogey and it just went downhill from there.”

The veteran dropped three successive bogeys from the third and dropped two more at two more at the seventh and ninth to turn in seven over. “Once it cleared up, my head to clear up too,” he said. Jonesshowed his love of shot-making over the back nine to come home in even-par.

“The wind was definitely a factor today. When the west wind blows here, it mucks with your mind, because it feels like the wind changes direction all the time. You have to keep your wits about you.”

Jones expects a tough challenge from Sharp, Kew and the 6,191-metre layout.

“That Kevin was like a leech, he just wouldn’t go away,” said Jones.

“He’ll be there tomorrow and so will John and they will make it tough on me. Plus, it’s my first 72-hole tournament in many years, so I just hope I have the stamina to carry on for another 18 holes.”

Sharp also dropped a couple, but the Glendower player was happy with the result.

“I had no idea what would happen when the wind got up and it was very tricky out there,” he said. “Mostly I’m glad I didn’t get into serious trouble. I never expected to be in this position at the start of the week, so I’ll take a 76 with a smile.”

Unlike Jones, Sharp is taking nothing for granted.

“Denis did give us all a look in today, but the old timer is a tough old boot. He will give us a great fight on Friday. But there are a number of other players in the wings that could still do it like Josef Fourie, Jock Wellington or Anton Prinsloo. It’s going to be an epic final round.”


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