Argentina’s Ariel Canete moved into position to claim his first European Tour title in the inaugural Joburg Open, but will have to wait a little longer to see if he can achieve the feat as thunder and lightning at the Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club put paid to the third round action midway through the day.
With the final group approaching the turn, dangerous weather in the area left tournament officials with no option but to bring the players off the course and with conditions not improving throughout the afternoon, further play was deemed impossible, the decision to abandon for the day taken at 6.00pm local time.
All players will return on Sunday morning and be ready to play in position at 6.45am, the same time as the fourth round will get underway with all players retaining their third round groupings for the fourth and final round.
The one man most disappointed to have to stop playing was undoubtedly Canete, who started the day in a share of fifth place but who quickly surged into pole position with three birdies in four holes from the sixth before the klaxons sounded minutes after he had rolled in his third birdie putt of the day on the ninth green.
It moved the 31 year old, who finished 146th on the Order of Merit in 2006 and who failed to regain his full playing privileges when he finished 53rd at the Qualifying School in San Roque in November, to 12 under par in total, one clear of first round leader Andrew McLardy of South Africa and his fellow countryman Hennie Otto.
Like Canete, McLardy reached the turn in 33 following successive birdies at the sixth, seventh and eighth holes to move to 11 under par for the tournament and he was soon joined on that mark by Otto, one of the three men who began the third round in a share of the lead.
Indeed, the leading trio endured a torrid opening spell, James Kingston dropping four shots in his opening eight holes to drop back into a tie for 17th place on seven under par, while Jakobus Roos fared even worse, double bogeying the first and bogeying the second, seventh and eighth to drop back to six under par and into a share of 29th place.
For a while it appeared that Otto was suffering in the general malaise when he dropped shots at the fourth and fifth, but he got his challenge back on track for the €158,000 (£106,438) first prize in the co-sanctioned event between The European Tour and the Sunshine Tour with birdies at the sixth and eighth holes.