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Despite a third-round 71, his worst score of the tournament so far, Adrian Meronk sits atop the leaderboard at 14-under par after three rounds at the Alfred Dunhill Championship in Malelane, South Africa. Jayden Schaper finds himself one back in second place.
Meronk is the first Polish player to ever lead a European Tour event and is poised to capture his nation’s first title on the circuit. The 27-year-old started fast with rounds of 65 (7 under) and 66 (6 under) in the first two days, but managed just three birdies against two bogeys on Saturday morning at Leopard Creek Country Club. His three-shot lead on the field has dwindled to one.
Nonetheless, Meronk is in good spirits and excited for what tomorrow could bring.
“I actually enjoyed it very much, even at the beginning,” he said, referring to the front nine where he committed both bogeys. “It was a nice experience and I’m really looking forward to tomorrow.”
South Africa’s own Schaper is only 19 years of age, but he’s playing like a seasoned veteran with 69, 67 and 67 on his scorecard so far. After a relatively uneventful first 14 holes on Saturday, Schaper caught fire with an eagle at the par-5 15th. Two of his three birdies came on the final two holes, positioning the local youngster squarely in Meronk’s rearview as he seeks the first Euro Tour win of his career.
“Throughout the tournament I’ve been playing the last four holes pretty solid,” said Schaper. “From the 15th, 16th, 17th and 18th, I really enjoy them. So I know that if I get through these holes and make a nice score here I can definitely get myself closer to the top.”
Third place currently belongs to another South African. Christiaan Bezuidenhout fired five birdies against a lone bogey to add a second consecutive 68 to his card. He sits three back in solo third with an opportunity to make a strong Sunday push. If the 26-year-old can overtake Meronk and Schaper, it would be his second Euro Tour win.
Also in the hunt are Spaniard Adri Arnaus and American Sean Crocker, who are currently T-4 at 10 under. Arnaus carded 69 on Saturday, and Crocker bettered him with a 68.
Meanwhile, Denmark’s Joachim B. Hansen was T-2 after the second round with an impressive 64 but went off the rails during Saturday’s action. A disastrous quadruple bogey on the par-4 11th led to a third-round 73, dropping him into a tie for sixth with Scotsman Calum Hill. At 9-under par for the tournament, Hansen is still in range to make some final-round noise, but the 30-year old has work to do.
The Euro Tour’s Alfred Dunhill Championship concludes Sunday.
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