Phil Golding, who made a record 16th visit to The European Tour Qualifying School last November and emerged with a card for the sixth time, goes into the last round of the South Airways Open with an opportunity to avoid any more late-season excursions to Spain.
The 40 year old from Luton fired an adventurous eight under par 64 in the third round at Erinvale Golf Club near Cape Town for an 11 under par total of 205 and a share of second place, one behind tournament leader Jean Hugo.
Hugo, from nearby Stellenbosch, shot a third round 65 for a 12 under par total of 204, one ahead defending champion Tim Clark and the Englishman, who enjoyed a roller coaster ride around Erinvale’s undulations.
Golding holed his second shot at the last, made a more conventional eagle at the third, made five birdies and another with his second ball after going out of bounds at the 17th to escape with a bogey!
Meanwhile Clark experienced a spectacular collapse while leading the event by three shots with three holes to play. The South African fluffed no fewer than five chips from the edge of the green and ran up a quadruple bogey nine, before rallying with a birdie at the last for a 71.
Golding had to be persuaded to tackle his 16th Qualifying School by his wife, Sally, just 24 hours after shooting his lowest round on The European Tour, a nine under par 63 in the 59th Italian Open Telecom Italia.
"I am glad Sally got me to enter," he admitted. "It was a last minute thing but I’d just shot a personal best on Tour and she felt I should go. One shot less in Italy and I would not have needed that visit but as I said at the time: Christmas wouldn’t be the same without the Q School!"
He added: "This puts me in with a shout. It would be good to bank a decent cheque early on. If you can get off to a good start it takes a bit of pressure off."
Golding went to the turn in 31 and was seven under for the day playing the last. He drove out of bounds but played a provisional ball and hit his approach to three feet for a bogey five. Then came his moment at the last, when he holed his nine iron from 146 yards for an eagle two.
That secured a round of 64 – equalling the new course record set twice earlier in the day by South Africa’s Tjaart van der Walt and Ian Hutchings.
Hugo, the first round leader after a 66, was unaware that Clark had come to grief. He said: "I knew I was four behind Tim after the 14th but it wasn’t until walking down the 18th that I heard he had taken a nine. I couldn’t care less what he shot as it’s all about tomorrow.
"I am looking forward to the last round. I didn’t expect to be in the lead and it’s an understatement to say that I want a good start. It’s very important."
Clark was philosophical about his misadventure at the 16th and shrugged: "I guess it was the wrong shot. I tried to get too cute and I won’t do it again! After a couple of mises my mind was a bit scrambled."
A total of five players share fourth place on 207, nine under par – Brian Davis, Ian Hutchings, Trevor Immelman, Rolf Muntz and Justin Rose.