India’s Gaganjeet Bhullar yesterday took a one-stroke lead and Ernie Els surged into contention after the third round of the Fiji International.
Bhullar, who plays mainly on the Asian Tour, shot a second consecutive 69 to move to eight-under-par after three rounds, a shot clear of Australians Jake McLeod, Jarryd Felton, Terry Pilkadaris and Andrew Dodt.
New Zealand’s Ben Campbell, who led the US$1.2 million tournament by four shots after the second round, had a five-over 77 and dropped back into sixth place at six-under, a stroke ahead of Els, who carded a 69 to lie seventh, three shots off the lead.
Els produced a brilliant back nine to revive his week and sit only three shots off the lead at five-under.
He had been tied for 19th after an even-par first round of 72 and was 20th after his two-under 70 in the second round.
Bogeys on the seventh and eighth holes dropped him back to one-under, eight shots behind Campbell, who was still in front early in the third round.
However, the four-time major champion had four birdies in his last 10 holes to move into contention, as players battled high winds.
“Conditions were a little bit tougher than yesterday, obviously, but I still made a bit of a mess on the front nine,” Els said.
Els has not finished in the top 10 at a professional tournament since June 2016, and had missed cuts in his past eight tournaments.
“There is a low score out there for me,” he said. “I’m starting to hit the ball nicely, starting to get a bit more confidence in the putter, so it’s there and if it really blows tomorrow anything can happen.”
Taiwan’s Hung Chien-yao was still hanging on second from the back in 69th place with 10-over.
Additional reporting by staff writer
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