A chip-in at the fifth saw Scotland’s Alastair Forsyth hit the front of a congested leaderboard during the third round of the Joburg Open.
With the field descending on Royal Johannesburg & Kensington’s East Course after being divided between the East and West lay-outs over the first two rounds, overnight leaders Edoardo Molinari and Craig Lee were caught on 11 under before even teeing off.
South African trio Andrew Georgiou, Brandon Stone and Justin Walters all made quick starts to join the leaders, as did Korea’s Jin Jeong and France’s Gary Stal.
When Lee and Molinari did start both birdied the first but bogeyed the second to fall back into the large group, who were all leapfrogged when Forsyth, a two-time European Tour winner who retained his card at Qualifying School in November, holed out from the bunker to reach 12 under par.
The leading eight players had just five European Tour titles between them – four of those belonging to Forsyth and Molinari – and all were looking to take one of the three Open Championship places on offer this week.
Walters and Georgiou birdied the fifth to join Forsyth on 12 under, but the Scot found the green in two at the par five sixth and two-putted for birdie to be one in front once more.
An approach to three feet at the ninth gave another South African, Thomas Aiken, a birdie to turn in 33 and join Walters in second place as Georgiou three-putted the sixth to fall into the chasing pack.
Walters birdied the long eighth and holed a six footer on the next to take the outright lead on 14 under, as Molinari moved into contention on 12 under with back-to-back birdies from the fifth.