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Ritchie makes history in Durban

Ritchie makes history in Durban

JC Ritchie set a new record for the lowest 54-hole total in European Challenge Tour history at the Jonsson Workwear Open after posting a seven under par round of 65 to reach a staggering 25 under par following the third round at Durban Country Club, opening a ten-shot lead ahead of the final day.

JC Ritchie (5)

The South African surpassed the previous record, set at 23 under par by Sweden’s Kristoffer Broberg at the 2012 Rolex Trophy, with another flawless display on the third day in Durban, signing for his third bogey-free round of the week to move ten strokes clear of Northern Ireland’s Tom McKibbin, who is second on 15 under par.

The nine-time Sunshine Tour winner, who successfully defended his Bain’s Whisky Cape Town Open title last week, entered day three with a six-shot lead and after a fantastic par save on the par three second hole, went on to make seven birdies and extend his advantage to ten ahead of tomorrow’s final round.

“It’s another special day,” he said. “This golf course has been very generous to me and I’ve been trying to respect it as much as I can.

“I tried not to think about being bogey-free, especially after my second hole today where I hit my first bad shot of the week. I got out of trouble with a par and sort of settled down from there. My ball striking was pretty awesome again today and it really gives me confidence when I keep hitting the ball where I want it go and putting myself in good positions.”

The 28-year-old’s 54-hole aggregate total of 189 is also a Challenge Tour record, three shots lower than the previous best of 192, which was shared between Juan Parron, at the 2006 Ireland Ryder Cup Challenge, and Birgir Hafthorsson at the 2017 Cordon Golf Open.

With back-to-back victories in his sights tomorrow, Ritchie has the chance to make further history, with the lowest winning total in both Challenge Tour and Sunshine Tour history within touching distance, which stand at 29 under par and 28 under par, respectively.

“I am looking forward to tomorrow,” he said. “I have dreamt of this my whole life and I’m going to enjoy it as much as I can.

“The heat is something special. February is the hottest month of the year here so I added a third glove into my rotation today due to the heat. It makes it super tricky and you have to keep hydrated in order to keep focused.”

Northern Irishman McKibbin sits in second place on 15 under par, while Dane Nicolai Kristensen, who carded an eight under par round of 64, shares third place with Sweden’s Adam Blomme and Belgium’s Christopher Mivis on 14 under. South African Jbe Kruger and Iceland’s Haraldur Magnus occupy sixth place on 13 under par.

The final round of the Jonsson Workwear Open will begin at 7:15am local time and Ritchie will tee it up alongside McKibbin and Kristensen at 11:00am.

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