Former Florida star Sam Horsfield could be on the verge of his first European Tour victory in his rookie European Tour season. The Englishman is just two shots off the lead heading into the final round of the $1.2 million Tshwane Open.
Horsfield returned a third-round 64, 7 under, around Pretoria Country Club in the South African capital to join Finland’s Mikko Korhonen in second place on 12 under, just two shots behind home favorite George Coetzee.
The 21-year-old will draw on winning the European Tour Qualifying School last year to try and earn his maiden European Tour win.
“I think everyone just wants to get themselves into contention and I’ve done that, so tomorrow’s going to be a fun day,” said Horsfield, who won four times in two seasons for the Gators.
“I had a good week at Q-School, so when I get into contention I can look back on something like that.”
Horsfield birdied the first four holes to get off to a quick start in the third round. He also birdied the ninth to be out in 30 shots. Birdies at the 11th and 12th moved him further up the leaderboard.
“It was important to get off to a good start, the back nine is definitely tougher with fewer birdie opportunities.
“I made a good birdie on 11 and then birdied 12 and then just sort of just hung on coming down the stretch.
“When I was 7 under through 12, I actually just tried to stay in my zone. I was playing with Matt Baldwin and I know him pretty well. We played together at Q-School and we just had fun out there.”
The Ian Poulter protege hasn’t got off to the best of starts in his rookie season. He’s missed five of six cuts, but did finish fourth in the ISPS Handa World Super 6 Perth.
He’ll have a contest on his hands to overhaul Coetzee. The 31-year-old is playing on his home course, and counts the 2015 Tshwane Open as one of his three European Tour victories. The strong South African returned a 3-under 68 to stay at the top of the leaderboard.