The Englishman may be playing his first event of the 2019 season but the page has not yet turned on the calendar and he heads into round four at Randpark Golf Club with an excellent chance of adding to his victories in India, Germany and Denmark.
A long putt on the last in round three saw him sign for a 68 and sit three shots behind leader Louis Oosthuizen with 18 holes to go.
“I’ve given away so many shots this week, silly errors, not hitting the greens and stuff like that,” he said. “I guess that just comes with the little bit of rustiness after two weeks off.
“It’s tough out there, it’s windy, and I just said to (caddie) Glen, ‘if we can go tomorrow and make it stress-free and give myself as many chances as possible, we’ll be right up there’.
“I can’t control what Louis is doing, Charl and what the other fellows do. So I’m just going to head out there tomorrow and try as best as I can, no expectations.”
Charl Schwartzel was also at 11 under after a disappointing 72 that saw him slip out of the halfway lead but he was happy to still be in contention as he looks to win his home Open for the first time.
“I sort of hung in there and I’ve still got a chance tomorrow,” he said. “I am playing good golf. The putter was really weak for me today but three shots back is close enough to make Louis scared.
“I haven’t been in this position this year much. I haven’t played very well.
“It is very nice to be back in contention. It is not nice playing at eight o’clock in the morning when you are lying 40th. It is nice to tee off when you have got a chance to win.”
Zambia's Madalitso Muthiya completed the group in second after a battling 71 that saw him recover from two double-bogeys.
“I'm very proud of how I was able to fight back,” he said.
“I just want to play well tomorrow and just shoot a good round and hopefully I will be able to execute as well as I can.
“Winning here would be something else. Obviously, we’ve got great players. I played with Charl today, he was great and it was great playing with him.
“Louis is firing on all cylinders and I saw Ernie Els there. It’s a great thing to be part of history in South Africa and to be part of this tournament.”