Fraser and Maybin in front

4/25/2010 7:02:30 AM
Northern Ireland's Gareth Maybin joined battling overnight leader Marcus Fraser of Australia in a one shot lead over Ernie Els midway through the third and final round of the Ballantine's Championship.

First and second round leader Fraser missed some close-range putts on the front nine on Saturday, but had no such troubles at the start of his third round with putts from inside six feet at the first and fourth maintaining his one shot lead early on.

But Maybin matched Fraser's start in bright but breezy conditions to take over the chase from the struggling Thongchai Jaidee and Tano Goya.

The 29 year old joined the Australian at the top of the leaderboard with a superb approach into the ninth green setting up a simple tap-in birdie.

Fraser, playing in the final group behind Maybin and Els, ensured the share of the halfway lead after holing a 15 foot par putt at the eighth after missing the green before conjuring up another par save a hole later after finding sand off the tee.

World Number Seven Els made an ideal start with a 25 foot birdie putt at the first being quickly followed up by a 15 foot conversion from the edge of the second green to hand the South African back-to-back gains.

And he holed a 15 foot birdie putt at the eighth after initially appearing disappointed to leave his approach from 117 yards under the hole to move firmly in the hunt for a third win of the year.

Like Fraser, compatriot Brett Rumford reached the turn in a bogey-free two under par to sit a further shot off the pace with a two shot gap to Maybank Malaysian Open champion Noh Seung-yul of Korea, in-form Oliver Fisher, last year's runner-up Robert-Jan Derksen and Goya.

Goya and defending champion Jaidee sat a shot adrift of Fraser heading into the final round, but the Argentinian reached the turn in one over, while two bogeys left the Asian Number One five shots back alongside Mikko Ilonen, Niclas Fasth, Johan Edfors and Mardan Mamat just inside the top ten.