Aiken surges ahead in India

3/16/2013 8:05:00 AM
Thomas Aiken  (Getty Images)
Thomas Aiken (Getty Images)
South Africa's Thomas Aiken produced a stunning scoring burst to charge into the lead midway through the third round of the Avantha Masters.

Aiken started the day four shots off the lead shared by China's Liang Wen-chong and Thailand's Chapchai Nirat, but raced to the turn in 30 and then birdied the tenth for good measure.

The 29 year old from Johannesburg, winner of the Open de España in 2011, birdied the first, eagled the par five second and then picked up further birdies at the fifth, seventh and eighth at Jaypee Greens Golf Resort & Spa.

When he birdied the tenth to move to 15 under, Aiken had a two stroke lead over a six-strong chasing pack.

That group included overnight leaders Liang and Nirat, as well as Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Australia's Scott Hend, England's Tommy Fleetwood and Scotland's David Drysdale.

Aphibarnrat had also raced to the turn in 30 with six birdies in eight holes, but bogeyed the tenth after missing a three footer for par, while Fleetwood and Drysdale were both three under for the day approaching the turn.

Fleetwood won The Challenge Tour in 2011, but needed a top-six finish in his final event of 2012 to retain his card for this season, while Drysdale is seeking a first European Tour title at the 291st attempt.

Aiken was briefly caught when the big-hitting Aphibarnrat eagled the long 12th by chipping in from the bunker, but responded with an approach to within three feet at the 11th; the resulting birdie taking him to eight under for the day.

When he two-putted the par five 15th for birdie and Aphibarnrat bogeyed the 17th, Aiken suddenly had a three shot lead over the chasing pack.

Aiken also birdied the 16th from 12 feet and then saved par from a greenside bunker on the 18th to complete a brilliant round of 62.

At 18 under par he led by three shots from Drysdale, who had just birdied the 16th, with Aphibarnrat in the clubhouse on 14 under after a 66.