Past champion Fichardt takes pole position at Qatar Masters

Darren Fichardt will take a one stroke lead into the final round of the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters as he seeks a second victory in Doha.

The South African, who won this event in 2003, carded a one under par 70 at Education City Golf Club in a round which included a double bogey and two further dropped shots as the field again battled howling winds in the Qatari capital.

The five-time European Tour winner recovered from dropping three shots in just two holes on the 13th and 14th, with birdies on the 16th and 17th, to record a seven under par total after three rounds, one stroke ahead of England’s Jack Senior, who carded a level par 71.

“When I started today I couldn’t get the pace right, the greens sped up significantly with the wind,” said Fichardt. “I was three-whacking like it was going out of fashion, on every green. Luckily I figured my swing out on the range before I teed off. I said to my wife to give ourselves opportunities and to try and get our first putt past the hole. When they started dropping I started to get a nice rhythm and a nice flow.

“Then I got to the par five 13 – that’s a hell of a par five, plus wind. I walked off there making a double and felt a bit out of sorts. I three-whacked the next green. I tried to gather my thoughts and realise it’s tough out there, everyone was struggling and to try and finish with a couple of pars coming home – luckily I got two birdies.”

India’s Gaganjeet Bhullar is third on five under par after a round of 68, while Frenchman Antoine Rozner made the biggest move on the leaderboard, rising 35 places after also recording a three under par round.

Gaganjeet Bhullar plays from a bunker on the 3rd during the third round of the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters

 “I had a good start to the tournament, four under on day one was pretty solid,” said Bhullar. “Yesterday I hit the ball pretty good and gave myself a lot of birdie opportunities. I made a few silly mistakes in the beginning, but played well on the back nine. That was the time when the wind picked up. I had a feeling of confidence that I could play well in the wind.

“Today from the first hole it was gusting and howling pretty much the whole day. I hit the ball well and gave myself a lot of opportunities, I drove the ball okay and didn’t miss too many fairways. The main target was to keep the ball in play and make sure I was hitting a lot of my shots in regulation to stay in the game.”

Rozner shares fourth with Joachim B. Hansen of Denmark and Welshman Jamie Donaldson on four under par.

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