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Russian Open

Thomas Aiken will take three-shot lead into final round of Avantha Masters

Last Updated: 16/03/13 12:17pm

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Thomas Aiken: Fired ten-under-par 62 to open three-shot lead in India

Thomas Aiken: Fired ten-under-par 62 to open three-shot lead in India

South Africa's Thomas Aiken fired a superlative 62 on Saturday to ensure he will take a three-shot lead into the final round of the Avantha Masters in India.

Aiken began the day four shots off the pace, but carded eight birdies and an eagle to climb to the top of the leaderboard with an 18-under-par total of 198 at Jaypee Greens Golf Course at Greater Noida.

The 29-year-old from Johannesburg, whose sole European Tour title to date came in the Spanish Open in 2011, covered the front nine in 30 thanks to four birdies and an eagle three when he holed a pitch shot on the second.

He then picked up four more birdies on the back nine to finish three clear of overnight joint-leader Liang Wenchong of China, who posted a solid 69 that featured five birdies and two bogeys.

Scotland's David Drysdale had looked set to be Aiken's closest challenger following birdies at the 16th and 17th, but he drove into the water on the 18th and ran up a double-bogey six.

That left Drysdale, seeking a first tour win at the 291st attempt, sharing third on 14-under with Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat, with Australian Scott Hend, England's Tommy Fleetwood and Finland's Joonas Granberg a shot further back.

Game plan

Former Ryder Cup player David Howell is in a tie for 12th on 11-under after a flawless 65, but even that was made to look ordinary by the efforts of Aiken.

The South African was six-under-par after just eight holes, but insisted the thoughts of a historic 59 never entered his mind.

Third round leaderboard

(GB & Ire unless stated)
-18 T Aiken (SA)
-15 L Wenchong (Chn)
-14 D Drysdale
-14 K Aphibarnrat (Tha)
-13 S Hend (Aus)
-13 J Granberg (Fin)

Click here for collated scores

"I wasn't really thinking about the score at all," he told Sky Sports. "I got off to a great start with a birdie at the first and holing a pitch shot for eagle always helps, but from then on I just stuck to my game plan.

"I didn't hit too many drivers on the front nine to take a lot of the trouble out of play and relied on hitting some good iron shots, which I happened to do today and converted them as well.

"I have been playing very well the last few months and just haven't converted opportunities; there was always a round of level par or one over and fortunately this week I have converted a lot of the opportunities that I've had.

Spain's Alvaro Quiros, making his first appearance for four months following wrist surgery in November last year, added a 69 to his two opening rounds of 70 to lie seven-under-par in a tie for 32nd.

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