Louis Oosthuizen is in prime position to make up for his Masters Tournament heartache at the first attempt after finishing day three of the Maybank Malaysian Open with a one shot lead.
The 29 year old South African, who narrowly missed out on a second Major Championship at Augusta National after a play-off defeat to Bubba Watson, was 13 under par at Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club after ten holes of his third round, with storm delays causing further disruption.
Third two weeks ago in Houston where he led after three rounds, the 2010 Open Championship winner has so far defied both mental and physical fatigue after a 30-hour journey from Georgia.
Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher starts the final day as his nearest challenger on 12 under par with seven holes of his third hole remaining, with Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Danny Willett and David Lipsky sharing third on ten under par.
Oosthuizen started the day by moving to ten under par with birdies at the 14th and 15th for a second round 68.
At ten under par he held a one shot lead at the halfway stage, but the soft conditions provided a birdie-fest at the start of the third round and Oosthuizen was initially unable to take advantage as he found sand off the tee at the first three holes.
He saved par on each occasion, but was caught by Gallacher when the 2004 Dunhill Links Champion holed a ten foot birdie putt at the second.
Four-time European Tour winner Oosthuizen responded with birdies at the fourth and fifth, and although he bogeyed the sixth for the second time this week gains at the ninth and tenth just before the siren sounded put him back in front.
“I got off to a pretty slow start to the third round – I hit three good putts on the first three holes but didn’t birdie one of them,” he said. “I am probably going for a few more shots than usual in the third round because I am kind of playing it like it might be the last round.
“You never know with the weather here so you are trying to get ahead of the guys just in case all of a sudden it becomes a 54-hole event. I actually don’t think that will be the case now, but at that point on the sixth I was still thinking there was a chance that this could be the last round.
“I feel good now. I made good putts on nine and ten for birdie and I have another birdie putt to come back to in the morning so it feels really good. I am playing well and just have to keep giving myself chances.
“I think everyone knew that this week was going to be one of those one where we are off and on the golf course and to be honest I am screwed with the jet-lag anyway so it doesn’t matter either way to me if I have to get up at six in the morning or ten!
“The jet-lag has been pretty rough, especially having the kids with us because they are sleeping all day and then coming alive at night. Thankfully my wife has been able to sit up with them at night in the room next door while I try and sleep but I haven’t had more than four hours straight at any one time.
“It’s a tough week but it was always going to be the case this week. None of that will matter if I can win tomorrow. My swing feels really good and when you are playing like this you really want to get a win because it just boosts the confidence so much and it is a good time of the year to do that.”
The 37 year old Gallacher, second to Cabrera-Bello at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic in February, added further birdies at the third and fifth – both par fives – but then saved par brilliantly from ten feet after pitching through the green at the seventh to leave himself well placed for a second European Tour title.
In-form Cabrera-Bello was in the hunt again, turning in a five under par 31 after starting his third round with a hattrick of birdies to reach ten under, while Willett was four under through 12 and Lipsky three under after 11.