South Africa’s Nienaber takes two-shot lead into final round in UAE Challenge

Dubai Amateur 17-year-old Oscar Craig continues to showcase his impressive form with third-round level par 72 at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club

By Nick Tarratt, Khaleej Times Guest Golf Writer

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Round three leader Wilco Nienaber (RSA) in action at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club. - Supplied photo
Round three leader Wilco Nienaber (RSA) in action at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club. - Supplied photo

Published: Sat 27 Apr 2024, 4:29 PM

Wilco Nienaber shot a third-round three under par 69 for a 12-under 54-hole total of 204 to lead the $300,000 UAE Challenge at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club in Abu Dhabi on the Challenge Tour.

The 24-year-old South African is known for his long-hitting and has one win as a professional in the Challenge Tour - Sunshine Tour co-sanctioned Dimension Data Pro-Am in 2021.


After starting the day two shots back of round two leader Joshua Berry (Eng) and both playing in the final three-ball group of the day, Nienaber had a seven birdie 69 to take a two-shot lead into Sunday’s final round.

He has continued his good form from last week in Al Ain, Equestrian, Shooting and Golf Club where he shot a second round 10 under par 60.


Berry slipped with a third-round 76.

Former Abu Dhabi resident David Horsey (Eng), the 2008 Challenge Tour Rankings winner, shot a third-round 68 to be in tied second alongside two other players.

Gary Stal (Fr), 32 years old, has had rounds of 70, 71 and 66, his third round is one of the best scores of the day, and has fond memories of Abu Dhabi. He won the 2015 Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship held at Abu Dhabi Golf Club and is a winner of two Challenge Tour events both in 2012. He lies in tied fifth along with four other players on nine under par.

Included in tied fifth is the 2017 Challenge Tour Rankings winner - 33 -year-old Tapio Pulkkanen (Fin).

Dubai’s 17-year-old Oscar Craig, stepson of World No 11 Tommy Fleetwood, who plays out of Jumeirah Golf Estates off a +4.5 handicap, was the only amateur to make the cut. He continues his fine form with a three birdie – three bogey level par 72 – to be two under par in tied 46th place.

Craig said on completing his round: “There was way more relief today rather than stress because I’ve made the cut now. I was so happy with how I’ve played, it’s been another steady day again.

“I’ve had quite a few messages to be fair about making the cut. It’s all been really positive and my mates have been really happy. My family have been chuffed as well, it’s been nice to see.”

Asian Tour’s current number one John Catlin (US) shot a round three 69 along with rounds of 71 and 69 to be in tied 14th.

Garrick Porteous (Eng), who represents Trump International Golf Club, Dubai, slipped to a two-birdie 75, to be in tied 58th.

The final round tees off tomorrow (Sunday) with tee times starting at 7.30 am and the leaders out last at 9.30 am in a two-tee start.

The tournament is sanctioned by the Emirates Golf Federation (EGF), partnered by Abu Dhabi Sports Council and sponsored by ARENA, Phoenix Capital and Al Laith. For further information Visit: www.europeantour.com

Leading Round Three Scores

(7,681 Yards, Par 72).

Nienaber (RSA) 65. 70. 69. 204.

Rusch (Sw) 67. 70. 69. 206.

Horsey (Eng) 70. 68. 68. 206.

Sagoo (Eng) 70. 70. 66. 206.

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