Ross Fisher moved closer to a first European Tour triumph in four years by taking a five-shot lead on Saturday after three rounds of the Tshwane Open in South Africa.
The 33-year-old English golfer, whose last title was the 2010 Irish Open, fired a 67 at The Els Club Copperleaf, west of the Highveld city of Pretoria.
Fisher’s see-saw front nine produced five birdies and two bogeys. The Englishman then claimed another two birdies on the back nine of the 7,964 yard layout.
Fisher, a stroke ahead at the halfway stage of the 1.5 million euro (US$2.1 million) event, carded a five-under-par 67 for a 198 total after 54 holes.
Ranked 82 in the world, Fisher said he is aiming to play his way into a top-50 place soon, adding that he had no intention of playing it safe as he headed into yesterday’s final round.
“I feel like I belong in the top 50. I have been there before, but struggled during the past few seasons to return,” the four-time European Tour winner said.
“I’m certainly not going out tomorrow [yesterday] to hit fairways and greens and make pars. I want to force the other guys to shoot a silly-low score to beat me,” Fisher said.
“I feel like I am playing as good as I ever have — similar to 2010 when I was contending for Majors and got myself into the Ryder Cup team,” he added.
Michael Hoey from Northern Ireland, who climbed into contention on Friday with seven consecutive back-nine birdies, lies second after a mixed third trek over the longest European Tour course.
Like Fisher, Hoey delivered a mix of birdies (six) and bogeys (three) in the second edition of the Tshwane Open, last year.
Englishman Simon Dyson, who shared the opening-round lead, and Spaniard Carlos Del Moral lie third on 204, six shots adrift of Fisher.
Dyson could manage only a one-under 71 composed of three birdies, two bogeys and 13 pars over a course designed by South African quadruple Major champion Ernie Els.
Del Moral, who is seeking his maiden European victory, also had a three-birdie, two-bogey round of 71 on a day when wet weather replaced the sun that shone during the opening half of the tournament.
A group of seven golfers seven shots behind Fisher on 205 includes Italian Edoardo Molinari (70) and Irishman Kevin Phelan (68).
Englishman Robert Rock is a shot further back after the best third round — a 65 that included 10 birdies and a triple-bogey six at the penultimate hole.