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Watson, Sheard in SA Mid-Amateur tussle

09 May 2013

SA number one mid-amateur Graeme Watson trails by one from local favourite Greg Sheard after the third round of the South African Mid-Amateur Stroke Play Championship, sponsored by Volvo, at Stellenbosch Golf Club; credit Dale Boyce

Several players tried to make a hard charge at the leaders on moving day, but the pursuers must have felt like they were standing still once the dust settled in the third round of the SA Mid-Amateur Stroke Play Championship.

Local favourite Greg Sheard maintained his grip on the lead with a third round 71 at Stellenbosch Golf Club, while the country’s top ranked mid-amateur Graeme Watson from Ekurhuleni came home with the same score to finish just one shot adrift of the Stellenbosch golfer on six-under-par 210.

Joint overnight leader and former champion, Grant Wood from Central Gauteng, slipped to third on one-under-par 215 after carding a 74, while Gauteng North’s Pieter Cooper carded a 72 to tie for fourth on even par with the Western Province’s Cameron Johnston, 71.

Sheard was not surprised to discover that he and Watson were the only two players in the top 15 to break par on day three of the prestigious Volvo-sponsored tournament.

“We had some overnight rain that left the course pretty wet, and we were mainly playing off the back tees,” the Stellenbosch golfer said. “The pins were tucked well back, so the course played extremely long. I think that explains the higher scores today.”

“It was actually a perfect day for scoring with the sun shining and hardly a breeze in the air, but it was definitely tough there. We had very little carry in the fairways, so the approach shots were pretty long, and that made scoring a little difficult.”

The Western Province Mid-Amateur captain started his campaign with par, something that pleased him to no end.

“After a bogey start in the first round and a double bogey in the second, I think that par set the tone for a tidy round,” he said.

“I made a silly bogey at the third hole when I chipped it to a couple of feet and missed the putt for par and I lipped-out for bogey at the 15th. Other than that, three birdies and a bunch of pars for a 71.

“I played pretty well and I managed to limit my mistakes and that kept me in the running.”

Watson got off to a bogey start, but erased the damage with a birdie at the fifth and dipped one under with his second birdie at the eighth. He turned in 35 and after a bogey at the 15th, birdied the 17th to finish in one under.

“It was like playing a completely different course,” said the Ebotse golfer. “The tees were off the back and the pins were in the back, which already made it a lot longer but I think the rain just compounded things. It was tough day at the office, for sure. Hopefully we will have some easier holes mixed in to make things a bit more interesting on Friday. ”

Although he will have Watson, already a three-time winner this season, breathing down his neck in the final round, Sheard feels comfortable going up against the country’s number one.

“I don’t really feel that the pressure is on me,” he said. “Graeme has won something like seven times in the last year and he is the current number one, so I think he is the one under pressure.

“I’m just going to enjoy myself, play the same kind of golf as I have over the last three days and let the dice fall where they will.”

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