Andrew Dodt maintained his two-shot lead heading into the final round of the Australian PGA Championship after a day of dramatic twists and turns at RACV Royal Pines Resort.
The Australian entered the third round with a two-shot advantage after beginning the tournament 65-67 and while he extended that to three in the early stages, he would not have it all his own way on the Gold Coast.
Ashley Hall and Harold Varner III both recorded a pair of eagles as they attempted to chase him down, with Hall drawing himself level twice on the back nine.
Dodt was not to be passed, however, and five birdies and three bogeys in a round of 70 got him to 14 under, two shots clear of Hall and Varner.
Adam Scott and John Senden were then at ten under as the top five broke away from the chasing pack.
Dodt made just seven of 20 cuts in a frustrating 2016 season but a win on Sunday would hand him a third European Tour title and make him the first wire-to-wire winner since Alexander Levy at the Porsche European Open.
"It would be one of my biggest achievements, for sure," he said. "I mean, I’ve thought about it a couple of times this week but you don’t want to get ahead of yourself. You just want to play each round.
"It would be huge. All the top guys have won the Australian PGA, so it would be nice to put my name alongside them.
"My wins have been from behind so this position is new to me, which is nice, I’m enjoying it. I’m really trying to embrace it and enjoy my time out there on the course.
It would be huge. All the top guys have won the Australian PGA, so it would be nice to put my name alongside them - Andrew Dodt
"The first three rounds are irrelevant now. There are a lot of solid players, world class players behind me, so I’ve got to keep the foot down tomorrow and keep playing the way I’m playing."
When Dodt put his approach on the first to six feet, his lead was quickly up to three shots but that was as large as it would get.
The fourth had been an adventure for Hall so far this week with an eagle on day one and a triple-bogey on Friday and when he birdied it with Dodt bogeying the seventh, the lead was down to one.
The leader responded by birdieing the eighth and ninth for the third day in succession but Hall eagled the ninth to keep the gap one shot at the turn.
Scott eagled the same hole from 25 feet to keep himself within touching distance while American Varner - who missed out in a play-off here last season - broke a run of eight pars with a first birdie of the day.
Hall found himself in a share of the lead as Dodt bogyed the 11th but the 30 year old hit an excellent approach into the 12th to bounce back and when Hall found sand off the tee on the 13th, the lead was back to two.
Scott fell back after finding water on both the tenth and 13th while Varner picked a shot up on the 12th but drama was to come on the 15th.
Dodt missed his chance to take advantage of the par five thanks to a poor tee-shot but Hall made an eagle to join the lead, with Varner picking up two shots of his own from 25 feet.
Dodt then edged his nose back in front with a birdie on the par three 16th but in the group ahead Varner made it two eagles in three holes as he holed out from the 17th fairway to get to 13 under.
Hall bogeyed the 17th and all three of the leading contenders then dropped a shot on the last to leave things finely poised heading into the final day.
Senden was a picture of consistency, making birdies on the fourth, eighth, ninth and 17th to join Scott at ten under, three shots clear of New Zealander Ryan Fox.
England's Steve Webster equalled the low-round of the week with a 65 to get to six under alongside home favourite Scott Hend and American Julian Suri.
|1||VARNER III, Harold||USA||18||-19|
|T6||VAN DRIEL, Darius||NED||18||-8|