A round of 68 on the third day of the Kenya Open has put Challenge Tour debutant Oliver Fisher in sight of his maiden professional title.
On a hot and humid day at Muthaiga Golf Club in Nairobi, Fisher – playing with local hero Ali Kimani, who was unable to replicate his heroics of the previous day – posted six birdies and three bogeys to move to eight under par.
He currently leads by one stroke from Frenchman Charles-Edouard Russo, who shot a joint lowest of the day 67, and by two shots from his fellow Englishman Robert Dinwiddie, who signed for a round of 70.
Fisher got off to the perfect start with a seven iron to three feet for a birdie on the first hole, which was promptly cancelled out by a bogey at the second.
He duly recovered with a 15-feet birdie putt on the third, and picked up another shot after hitting a wedge to eight feet on the seventh hole.
After three-putting the eighth hole for bogey, he rallied with consecutive birdies on the 10th and 11th. An unfortunate bogey at the 12th, where he flew the green after the wind picked up mid-shot, was erased when he picked up a shot on the last hole, which he has birdied on all three days.
Fisher said: “I had a couple of strokes of luck today, but overall it was another good day at the office. It was quite difficult to concentrate at times because obviously there were a lot of people following Ali, but I managed to block out the distractions quite well and it was nice to play in front of a crowd. The wind was quite changeable which made club selection tricky at times, so a round of 69 was pretty good going in the circumstances. I’m in a great position, and hopefully now I can finish it off.”
Big things were expected of Fisher when he turned professional in a blaze of publicity in 2006, but thus far in his fledgling career the 21 year old has been outshone by Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy, in whose company he played much of his amateur career.
But tomorrow gives Fisher a chance to grab a share of the limelight, and he is determined to seize it with both hands.
He said: “I wouldn’t say I’m due a win exactly, because there are a lot of good players out here who haven’t won yet. But I won a lot during my amateur career, so I know what it takes. I had maybe hoped I would’ve won by now in my pro career, but hopefully I can put that right tomorrow. It might come down to whoever plays the back nine the best, because there are some really tricky holes. If I can shoot another 68 I’ll have a great chance – all I can do is give it my best shot, and hope it’s good enough. But whatever happens, I want to enjoy it.”
Fisher will be paired in the final group with Russo, who like his playing partner is also seeking his maiden Challenge Tour title.
The Frenchman’s only blemish came at the eighth hole, but he collected five birdies either side of that bogey to sign for his lowest round of the week.
Dinwiddie, twice a winner on the Challenge Tour in 2007, will be hoping to take advantage of any slip-ups by the front two.
He got off to a flying start with birdies at the third and fourth holes, but a double bogey at the long sixth checked his charge.
The back nine was also a mixed bag, with three birdies and two bogeys, but Dinwiddie’s experience could be crucial in what promises to be an engaging final day.