But the Woodsome Hall man slipped back from four under to just one overall after shedding five shots in six holes in the middle of his round over the East Course.
Having carded 70 69 on the first two days to be the only Yorkshireman left standing in Johannesburg, he birdied the first but followed with bogeys at holes two and three.
By the fifth he was still without a par on the day, but thanks to consecutive birdies had moved to one under for the round.
Then came the stumble, but the 30-year-old - playing only his fourth event as a newcomer to full membership of the European Tour - showed great character to card birdies at both 17 and 18.
He will look to make amends on Sunday with a low round to take him up the leader board to a cheque that will help defray the costs of travelling to South Africa for the second time in his fledgling top-tier tournament career.
Highlight of Hanson's day, though, was not his closing brace of birdies, but meeting former Open and US Open champion Ernie Els.
Hanson posted a locker room picture of himself with Els on Twitter, commenting: "Nice to meet a legend of the game! @TheBig_Easy making it look easy out there today shooting -4! #JoburgOpen10."