Otto opens the gap in the RSA

Hennie Otto has consolidated his position and will take a four-stroke lead into the final round of the Vodacom Championship

Hennie Otto consolidated his position at the top of the leaderboard in Saturday’s third round and will take a four-stroke lead into Sunday’s final round of the Vodacom Championship at Pretoria Country Club.

Otto followed up his magnificent second round 61 with a solid 67 and leads the field on 23 under par.

Jbe Kruger is his nearest challenger on 19 under following a 66 on a day when the diminutive Free Stater did his best to challenge Otto. Thomas Aiken is next best on 15 under following a 70.

After a one-hour delay to the round because of waterlogged bunkers following an overnight downpour in Pretoria, Otto teed off the third round with a five-stroke lead.

And the closest the rest of the field came to him was three strokes.

Kruger was the man doing most of the chasing. His three birdies in four holes over the turn, and Otto’s bogey on the par-four 11th saw them separated by only three shots at that point.

Otto then went through an adventurous stretch where he birdied 12, bogeyed 13 and birdied 14 to be four clear of Kruger.

Then he hit a beautiful second to three feet on the par-four 15th and holed the putt for birdie, and added another birdie on the last. Kruger made a late charge with birdies at 16 and 17, and then closed with a tame par on 18.

Otto made only three bogeys on Saturday, the first of which was the most obvious following a poor drive way right into the trees on the third.

But following on from a course record 61 was never going to be easy, and the man from Boksburg was happy to have kept his challenge on track.

“Normally, after a round like that, 72 is a good score. So I’m happy. There was a point where things weren’t going my way. But Cliffie Botha, my caddie, said to me it’s going to happen, and that I should just give it a chance. And then I started to hit good shots again,” Otto said.

And he paid tribute to the tenacity of Kruger, who himself is pushing hard for a big victory amidst a period of good form.

“Jbe played well. He just didn’t want to let go out there.”