Friday, 19 March 2010
Alfred Dunhill Championship - Round Three  (Getty Images)
Alfred Dunhill Championship - Round Three (Getty Images)

South African Thomas Aiken fired a course record 61 to storm to the top of the leaderboard at the Alfred Dunhill Championship.

The 25 year old, who started the week with a double bogey six en route to a level par 72, made his mark in round two with a seven under par 65, before his sensational performance on day three moved him to 18 under overall.

That left him one shot clear of one of the three overnight leaders Len Mattiace – the American managing to cut the deficit with an eagle at the par five 18th for a round of 66.

The other two – England’s Robert Rock, who shot a 69 and Oskar Henningsson are locked on 14 under par with Aiken`s compatriot Richard Sterne and David Lynn.

But the day belonged to Aiken, who broke the previous best score at the Leopard Creek Golf Club set in 2003 when reigning US Masters champion Trevor Immelman shot a 63 at the Tour Championship.

The Johannesburg golfer fired eight birdies in his opening 13 holes, before he holed a 35 foot putt for birdie on the par four 17th and followed that up by chipping in for eagle on the par five 18th.

“It was a fantastic day,” he said. “I had a great day yesterday and just came out here trying to follow that 65 up and try and keep among the pack of the leaders.

“You know, it’s this funny old game called golf. You just plod along and all of a sudden, things start to happen and you get the ball rolling, sink a few putts and next thing you know you hit 11 under par.

“It was really hot which made the concentration a little difficult but I managed to keep it together and drink enough water, to keep the concentration levels up. It was just great.”

As for the record, Aiken, who finished 39th at The Open Championship at Royal Birkdale earlier this year, had no idea of breaking it coming into the 18th.

He continued: “I had no idea what the record was. I heard a couple of mutters but nothing confirmed. I hit a good shot off the tee at the last, and I was on the fairway and I had a four iron to the green. Fortunately, I struck it well and that was that.”

As for his thoughts on the final round, Aiken added: “I’m just going to go out and play one shot at a time. You can’t think about scores, there’s no point. You need to go out and play the golf course as best you can.”

World Number Ten Lee Westwood endured a frustrating round with a bogey on the last seeing him drop back to ten under overall – a third round score of 70.

However, it was a good day for his countryman Lynn, who has had two top ten and one top 30 finish in his last three tournaments, and is now well placed to make a charge on the final day.

He said: “I hit my irons great today and then I putted well. I did struggle a bit with the driver. To be honest, I’ve not felt fantastic over the ball, but I just got into my routine and got into phases. The greens were pure.

“The course is great, it was very warm out there, but you have to keep going. There are still some guys out there so I might have a lot to catch up on, but still looking forward to it.”

 

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1STERNE, RichardRSA18-17
T2EDFORS, JohanSWE18-16
T2ROCK, RobertENG18-16
T4CABRERA-BELLO, RafaESP18-15
T4AIKEN, ThomasRSA18-15
T6HORNE, KeithRSA18-14
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