US-based top Zimbabwean golfer Brendan de Jonge was yesterday on the brink of a maiden win on the US PGA Tour after climbing into the lead at the AT&T National. It was after the third round at Congressional Country Club, in the storm-hit Bethesda in Maryland on Saturday.
The country’s only representative on the PGA Tour was late last night looking to shrug off the challenge of former world number one, Tiger Woods, who was lurking just a shot behind ahead of the final round.
Seeking a maiden PGA Tour win, De Jonge carded a two-under par 69 to move to seven-under 206 for the tournament, a stroke clear of Americans Bo Van Pelt (67) and Woods (67), and South Korea’s Noh Seung-yul (69).
De Jonge birdied three holes, but hardly anyone witnessed it in person at the Congressional Country Club after spectators were told to stay away because of a severe storm that struck the area overnight.
The former St Johns’ College student said playing without spectators seemed odd at the start, but then once they got going, it was all about managing one’s golf game.
“At first, it was definitely very strange,” he said. “Then we kind of got used to it. Just the no buzz. It was hard to get the adrenaline going, kind of felt like you were playing a Tuesday practice round or a qualifier.”
The 30-year-old De Jonge, who last week finished eighth at the Travellers Championship in Connecticut for his best finish of the season, has seen his fortunes transform on the PGA Tour.
Last season he earned a staggering $1 241 326 and his earnings so far this season currently stand at $910 675 from 19 tournaments and is on position 48 on the money list.
Meanwhile on the local circuit, Brian Gondo captured his maiden Golden Pilsener Zambezi Tour title after clinching the Open Classic Pro-Am at Chapman Golf Club on Saturday.
The Bulawayo Golf Club-based professional finished on seven-under-par 137, after shooting rounds of 69 and 68 in the 36-hole stroke play event.
Gondo, who learned his trade at Hillside Golf Club in Mutare, walked away with $3 000.
Mick Hogh was a shot behind on six-under-par 138 while Greg Bentley and Robson Saurombe were in a two-way tie for third place on one-under-par 138.
United States-based top amateur golfer Scot Vincent was the highest based amateur after finishing in a tie for seventh position on three-over-par 147.