England’s Graeme Storm may well have been nervous but he didn’t show it as he stretched his BMW South African Open lead to three strokes going into Sunday’s final round at Glendower Golf Club.
A bogey-free 67 lifted Storm to 17 under par and three ahead of world number two Rory McIlroy. South Africa’s Jbe Kruger and England’s Jordan Smith are next best on 13 under par.
But in a third round where McIlroy chipped in for an eagle two from the bunker on the seventh and went on a run of three birdies on the back nine to draw level with Storm at one point, Storm showed remarkable composure to take himself even further ahead of the field.
And he knows how big Sunday will be for him after just managing to retain his European Tour card last season.
“I’m a bit nervous to be honest with you. I find myself in a position that I’ve been in before over the years, but after last season I’m a little bit nervy,” said Storm.
“I’m pleased to see myself still at the top of the leaderboard. I didn’t make many mistakes, putted nicely and kept the momentum going. I’m just looking forward to a nice big steak tonight. I think I deserve it.”
Behind him, McIlroy signed for a 67 despite still suffering from the back pain he felt in the second round.
“I didn’t really get much sleep the night before. I had to wake up in the middle of the night and take a couple of painkillers. It was a little tender this morning as well. But the physios did a good job on me and strapped me up pretty well.
“I took a few anti-inflammatories before the round and during, which helped. It actually felt good on the back nine and hopefully this muscle spam around the joint is subsiding.”
McIlroy aside, Storm knows he’ll be in for another tough day on Sunday. As the leading South African, Kruger said he has no desire to end his SA Open challenge there.
“I don’t want to be the leading South African. I want to be the leading player overall once the last putt is holed on Sunday.”
And Italian Edoardo Molinari’s 63 on Saturday to climb to 12 under suggests there are still low scores to be found at Glendower Golf Club. – Michael Vlismas