Five shots. It’s the sort of lead which appears unassailable to all but the golfer who holds it.
That will be the margin for Belgium’s Manon De Roey when she steps to the first tee of the Worrells Women’s NSW Open tomorrow morning for the final 18 holes at Dubbo Golf Club.
Physically, the 29-year-old has been impressive the past two days with rounds of 64-66 to be 14-under after shooting 1-under on Thursday.
Those numbers also suggest she is mentally in a good place. But on Sunday, the test ratchets up a notch.
The upside of a big lead is that it means you’re in front, which means you’re playing well.
As a prickly Ben Hogan once sneered when asked if he would rather be one in front or one behind: “Would you rather be rich or poor?”
But several shots in front is a different proposition to a single stroke. A player with a big lead has everything to lose and nothing to gain; the chasing pack feels the exact opposite.
De Roey has played brilliantly this week. She deserves to be in the position she is in, particularly on a golf course that has tested the resolve of the players as much as any on the Tour.
Narrow would be a generous description for some of the fairways at Dubbo, and with large trees lining both sides of every hole the potential for a big number lurks at every turn.
The players have been feeling the pinch of that ever-present danger each of the first three days, and it will be amplified Sunday, the day they hand out the trophy and the cheques.
De Roey has found her fair share of trouble off the tee this week but has proved masterful at recovering.
That will be key tomorrow when the danger for her will be the temptation to play too defensively.
Leading a golf tournament looks pretty straight forward to those of us on the outside, but golfers will tell you it is anything but.
If De Roey goes on to claim victory tomorrow, she will have earned it just as much as if she was leading by a single stroke with one round to play.
Anything can – and often does – happen in golf and De Roey, like every player within ten shots, knows it.
The Worrells Women’s NSW Open is far from a done deal, no matter how it might look from the outside.
If you’re interested in golf, it will be fascinating to watch what unfolds.