Immelman, Rose surge further ahead in South Africa
BY iseekgolf.com | Southern Africa Tour | 2007 Nedbank Golf Challenge | Round Three | 02 Dec 2007
In one of the finest exhibitions or precision golf yet seen in the 27-year history of “Africa’s major” Trevor Immelman and Justin Rose each beat par to forge to a five-stroke lead (over Ernie Els) after three rounds of this year’s Nedbank Golf Challenge.
Immelman has carded rounds of 67, 66 & 67 and Rose scores of 68, 65 & 67 to post a three-round total of just 200 strokes. Els has also broken the 70 barrier in each of his rounds, 69, 67, 69.
Much has been made of the soaking rains that have made the greens softer; of the lift-clean-and-place rule that has enabled the players to play off perfect lies but that would deny the incredible ball-striking, delicate approach play and slide-rule putting of two of the great young talents in golf.
The Gary Player Country Club is a monster. It is playing exceptionally long, the fairways are as narrow as can be and the rough is nasty.
It is certainly playing more difficult than when Jim Furyk won with scores of respectively 12 under and six under in 2006 and 2007 – a point best illustrated by the fact that a former winner in Retief Goosen as well as American Stewart Cink find themselves 20 strokes adrift of the pace being set by Immelman and Rose.
Amazingly it could have been even better. Immelman book-ended his round with bogey fives at the first and 18th and Rose’s card also included two dropped strokes – the first coming at his 39th hole of the tournament, the third, and the next at the 13th.
In golf’s version of the Rugby World Cup Final South Africa’s Immelman and England’s Rose will thus go head-to-head in the quest for the $1.2 million first prize in Sunday’s final round.
They have effectively set up a match play duel in the sun with only Els in with a chance of upsetting the applecart. Fourth-placed Henrik Stenson is nine shots off the pace with Luke Donald and Adam Scott trailing by double figures.
Can it be done? Els will be playing immediately ahead of the two youngsters, who are his junior by 11 years, so he will be able, with a hot start, to apply some pressure but it will nevertheless take an exceptional round.
However it is possible on a treacherous course where big changes of fortune are possible – such as when Sergio Garcia made up six strokes by shooting 63 to Els’s 69 in 2001 to tie the big man and then beat him in a play-off.
Els has not been as sharp as he would have liked – off-key with his fairway woods, struggling to get the yardages right with his new irons and still not putting the ball as accurately as is necessary – but if anyone can pull it off – he can.
Source – Nedbank