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Saturday, 01 March 2014
Ross Fisher  (Getty Images)
Ross Fisher (Getty Images)

Ross Fisher will take a five shot lead into the final round of the Tshwane Open as he looks to secure a first European Tour title for four years.

A member of Europe’s triumphant Ryder Cup team in 2010, the 33 year old carded a five under par 67 at Copperleaf Golf & Country Estate to reach 18 under for the week.

Fisher was just one shot ahead at the halfway stage, but leads Northern Ireland's Michael Hoey by five strokes after a round containing seven birdies and two bogeys.

Simon Dyson and Spain's Carlos del Moral are a shot further back on 12 under, with Fisher’s team-mate from The Celtic Manor Resort Edoardo Molinari in a seven-strong group another stroke adrift.

"I feel like I'm playing as good as I ever have, probably similar to when I was contending in Majors and getting myself into the Ryder Cup team,” said Fisher.

“If I were to win here it would be a massive confidence boost and a step in the right direction. My primary goal is to get back in the top 50 [of the Official World Golf Ranking] - I've been there before and I feel like I belong there.

"I got to 17 in the world because of my Major performances, but like a few other guys I had a big comedown after the Ryder Cup having achieved the second pinnacle of golf outside of winning a Major and so early in my career. Maybe I suffered a bit from Ryder Cupitis, as I called it.

"You see guys like Henrik Stenson who got to the top of the game, disappeared, came back, disappeared, and now he's back where he belongs. 

“You see guys like that come through adversity, drift off and come back. Lee Westwood is another one - I wouldn't say my slump was anywhere near as drastic as theirs, but I've missed being in the top 50 and playing in the Majors and that's where I want to be. Hopefully this is a step in the right direction for me.”

Fisher had an-up-and-down outward nine, starting with a bogey at the first before birdies at the second and third - both thanks to putts of around 25 feet.

He scrambled a par on the fourth after finding a bunker off the tee, but paid the price for finding more sand on the par three fifth, missing from four feet for par.

That seemed to galvanise the World Number 82, who almost holed his approach to the sixth as the ball stopped inches from the cup before giving himself another formality of a birdie putt from two feet at the next.

Another birdie from 12 feet on the ninth took him to the turn in 33, and two more excellent iron shots on the 13th and 16th gave Fisher further birdies and put him in pole position for a fifth European Tour title, his last coming in the Irish Open in 2010.

"I want to win this by a couple of shots,” he added. “It would be nice to win in a good fashion because I feel like the game is good enough to win by a good number of strokes. 

“I want to go out there and shoot a low number and somebody's going to have to come out and shoot a ridiculous score to catch me."

Hoey had carded seven birdies in a row during his second round of 65, one off The European Tour record, but was unable to repeat such heroics on Saturday.

The five-time European Tour winner carded six birdies and three bogeys in his 69 and will partner Fisher in the final group on Sunday.

Dyson had looked set to join Hoey on 13 under but bogeyed the last after a poor approach and had to settle for a 71 that was matched by playing partner Del Moral, winner of the Qualifying School last November.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1FISHER, RossENG18-20
T2VAN TONDER, DanieRSA18-17
T2HOEY, MichaelNIR18-17
4DEL MORAL, CarlosESP18-16
5OTTO, HennieRSA18-15
T6WOOD, ChrisENG18-13

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