Henrik Stenson (Getty Images)
Henrik Stenson stormed into a five shot lead as he laid down the gauntlet to overnight leader Merrick Bremner at the SA Open Championship.
The Swede started the day two shots behind South African Bremner at the Serengeti Golf & Wildlife Estate and began steadily with five successive pars but soon moved to the top of the leaderboard.
Stenson continued to reap rewards from his long, straight driving and a run of five birdies in the space of seven holes kept him ahead of the chasing pack.
The 36 year old is currently ranked 59th in The Road to Dubai rankings, with the top 60 heading for next week’s DP World Tour Championship, and the incentive of making the lucrative showpiece continued to inspire him.
At the eighth, another booming drive was followed by a magnificent six iron approach to the island green as Stenson punched the ball within six feet to set up an eagle.
While he just pushed his birdie chance left on the ninth, subsequently missing the chance to equal Bremner’s course record from yesterday, Stenson signed for a seven under 65.
“I played really nicely yesterday and then when I came out I didn’t feel great on the range this morning and the first few holes were so-so,” he said.
“I had a couple of in-between chances on a few of the holes there and some great fireworks on the eighth, two great shots.
“I’ve hit probably more drives in the past two days than I have probably all season.
“The way I played I’ve had plenty of chances and I could have been three or four shots better. But that’s the same with everyone and I’m not going to be complaining about 13 under.”
Bremner was due out moments after Stenson headed for the clubhouse following his fine round, and he had company at eight under with Scotland’s Lloyd Saltman accruing seven birdies in a round of 66.
Unlike Stenson, Jaco Van Zyl’s slim hopes of reaching Dubai next week appeared to have vanished despite a promising start which yielded three birdies at his national championship.
However, the South African attacked the green from the rough on the eighth and found the water before his drop shot landed in a bunker en route to a double bogey.