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Saturday, 04 August 2018
Gaganjeet Bhullar  (Getty Images)
Gaganjeet Bhullar (Getty Images)

Gaganjeet Bhullar will take a one-shot lead into the final round of the Fiji International presented by Fiji Airways as he goes in search of a first European Tour title at Natadola Bay Golf Club.

Overnight leader Ben Campbell entered Saturday with a four-shot lead and held onto top spot for most of the day before a late stumble from the New Zealander left the door open to the chasing pack.

Indian Bhullar seized his opportunity, signing for a 69 to get to eight under and lead the way by one from Australians Andrew Dodt, Jarryd Felton, Jake McLeod and Terry Pilkadaris.

Campbell was then at six under, just one shot clear of four-time Major Championship winner Ernie Els.

Bhullar - playing his 106th European Tour event - was a winner on the Challenge Tour in 2011 and has eight career victories on the Asian Tour.

The 30 year old is also a man in form with three top tens in his last four appearances worldwide, and he showed excellent scrambling in making just a single bogey in round three.

"I had a great start to the day," said Bhullar. "I started with two good birdies and then I kept on hitting the ball really well and the ball was in play throughout the round. I think today my striking was really, really good. Despite the windy conditions, I kept the ball in play and actually I holed a lot of really tricky putts today.

"I think all the good rounds, good scores which I've been producing over the period of two months is going to definitely help me subconsciously. Golf is a crazy game, anything could happen."

McLeod signed for a 70, with Felton and Pilkadaris registering rounds of 71, while two time European Tour winner Dodt was left frustrated after a level par 72.

Golf is a crazy game, anything could happen - Gaganjeet Bhullar

Campbell dropped three shots in his last three holes en route to a 77 but Els finished birdie-birdie in a 69 that gives the South African genuine hope of winning European Tour title number 29.

Bhullar made a birdie-birdie start to join the group in second but that was soon five back after a Campbell birdie on the third.

The leader then dropped shots on the fourth, fifth, seventh and eighth as his approach play deserted him but a birdie on the par five ninth after hitting the green in two meant he still held a two-shot lead at the turn.

Bhullar made a string of impressive putts to save par around the turn but eventually dropped a shot on the 11th, claiming it straight back with a brilliant approach to the next.

An errant second shot from Campbell on the 16th led to a drop and when he double-bogeyed, it was McLeod who found himself in the lead.

The 23 year old turned in level par and bogeyed the tenth but made gains on the 11th, 12th and 16th and when he added another from eight feet on the 17th, he led alone.

A nice chip from Bhullar on the par five 17th gave him a share of the lead and with McLeod bogeying the last, the man from Punjab was ahead.

Dodt turned in 36 with two birdies and two bogeys before putting his approach right over the pin on the 14th to get within one. A three-putt on the next slipped him back and the 32 year old missed a good birdie chance on the 17th.

Pilkadaris was one over for his round when he bogeyed the 16th but a birdie-birdie finish put him back into red numbers and within one of the lead.

Felton was three over for the day after five holes with the help of a double-bogey on the fourth but birdied the ninth, 11th, 12th and 17th.

It's nice to play a tournament and actually have a sniff at it tomorrow - Ernie Els

Els could only turn in level par but came back in 33 with gains on the 11th, 17th and last.

"It's been a while so it's very nice," he said. "We're having a good week, myself, my daughter, my wife - we're enjoying Fiji. The locals have been wonderful, everyone's been great, so it's nice to play a tournament and actually have a sniff at it tomorrow."

Australian duo Matthew Griffin and Anthony Quayle, and Thai Poom Saksansin were four under.

Thitiphun Chuayprakong and Kieran Muir took the hole-in-one tally for the season to 25 as they both followed in the footsteps of Siddkur Rahman by hitting perfect tee-shots on the second.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1BHULLAR, GaganjeetIND18-14
2QUAYLE, AnthonyAUS18-13
T3ELS, ErnieRSA18-12
T3CAMPBELL, BenNZL18-12
5FELTON, JarrydAUS18-10
T6SAKSANSIN, PoomTHA18-8

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