Leonard Loxton of South Africa continued to feast upon birdie after birdie in a bid satisfy his new found hunger for success with a second consecutive six under par 67 to take a three shot lead going into the final round of the Stanbic Zambia Open.
Loxton, playing in his first competitive tournament for eight months, extended his second round lead by two shots on day three at the Lusaka Golf Club. He is three clear of his fellow countryman Michael Kirk, who matched Loxton’s third round 67 to post a 13 under aggregate score of 206.
The 26 year old tournament leader credits his stunning return to the competitive ranks to the rediscovery of his desire to succeed, as opposed to accepting second best.
Loxton’s form for the first three rounds has, indeed, been second to none – and he produced the most impressive display of the three on Saturday afternoon. Friday’s 67 did include an albatross two, but his third round performance was one of exemplary control that contained six birdies and 12 pars.
“Today was my best performance of the three days here in Zambia,” said Loxton after reaching 16 under par at the top of the leaderboard.
“I felt in total control of my game. I hit 16 greens in regulation, which made it that much easier to be putting for birdie all the time.
“That calmed me down quite a bit because nothing upsets your rhythm like scrambling for par. It allowed me to just go out there and have some fun and enjoy playing with an experienced player like Scott Dunlap – which was a first for me as well.
“I was just so relaxed out there. It was quite unbelievable. I think it has to do with the tremendous hunger I have to do something with my life and not just mess around as a journeyman professional for years and years.
“I don’t want to think about winning at the moment. All I’m going to do on the final day is play one shot at a time and do my best. That's all I can do. As long as I can walk off the 18th green on Sunday and know that I gave it my all, that's good enough for me.”
Dunlap is the closest challenger to Loxton behind Kirk. The American is five behind on 11 under par after rounds of 66-71-71, with Ariel Canete of Argentina and Zimbabwe’s Simon Katembenuka a further two shots back.
It all points to an intriguing battle between Kirk and Loxton, who will play together in the last group in the final round, for the €17,600.
Kirk finished 20th on last season’s Challenge Tour Rankings with €51,011 and is looking for his first Challenge Tour victory, while Loxton can end his eight month exile from golf in stunning fashion by taking the title.