Maritz Equals Course Record En Route to Lead


Recently turned professional, young Martin Maritz, set himself up to strike for his first professional victory on his own doorstep when a course-record equaling 65 gave him a share of the third round lead in the South African PGA Championship at Woodhill Country Club on Saturday.
The 23-year-old who hails from Pretoria, playing in only his sixth professional tournament after entering the paid ranks in August, leapt into a tie with Sammy Daniels and Deane Pappas, both of whom recorded 5-under-par 67s for 54-hole totals of 202, 14-under-par.
Maritz, who stands 1,98m in his socks, said he had thought after starting with five straight pars that he wasn't destined to break par in the third round, but things changed dramatically when he eagled the par-four sixth hole. 'I holed a wedge from about 135m. That really turned my round around,' he said.
After making three more pars to the turn, he scorched home in 31, narrowly missing a birdie putt at the last that would have given him a new course record of 64. 'I took a gamble at 15, taking a driver instead of an iron off the tee. My drive finished on the fringe and I two-putted from there,' he explained.
Maritz has enjoyed a superb first campaign on the Sunshine Tour, finishing 16th at the Mercedes Benz South African Open and joint 10th at the Dimension Data Pro-Am last weekend, but he confessed he was surprised that he already had a chance for his first victory. 'I didn't think it was going to come this quickly,' said Maritz, who made the second stage of the PGA Tour qualifying school in the United States at the end of last year.
However, he said he believed he was ready to compete with players of the experience of Pappas, who had a PGA Tour card in 1999, but couldn't make enough money to retain it, and Daniels, a three-time winner on the winter portion of the Sunshine Tour, who has had several top-five finishes in Asia.
'I played college golf for four years and that prepared me for the next level,' said Maritz, who has spent four years at the University of Tulsa in Oklahoma and was ranked 13th on the competitive American college circuit last year Samuels, who had six birdies and a single bogey, when he three-putted the par-4 13th from just off the green, said he hadn't driven the ball well on Saturday. That didn't stop him going out in 32 and going five under for his round at the 10th, although things started to go awry when he three-putted the par-5 11th for par and then dropped two holes later. 'Things were starting to look not too good, but a birdie on 15 got it going again and I just parred in,' he said.
Pappas, who has a victory in the Cleveland Open on the BUY.COM tour in the United States under his belt, said he had been frustrated by seeing four putts lip out. However, he said he was trying to overcome a tendency to get aggravated when things weren't going his way on the course and was happy that he'd been able to go with the flow on Saturday.
Meanwhile Nelspruit Golf Club's Steve van Vuuren, who started the third day eight shots off the pace, was robbed of a new course record by his own caddie's lack of vigilance. Van Vuuren blazed around the course, making eight birdies, including four in a row to the finish, while also accomplishing the rare feat of making birdies at all four of the course's par-three holes.
However, on the par-5 11th hole, with Van Vuuren's caddie having gone to wait alongside the fairway for his drive, the chance of a new record went up in smoke. Unfortunately for Van Vuuren, his caddie failed to pick up that the ball was heading in his direction and it pitched and hit his bag, incurring an automatic two-shot penalty. So what might have been a bogey-free 64 turned out to be a 66 with eight birdies, nine pars and one ugly double-bogey seven.