Brody Ninyette (Getty Images)
Western Australia natives Brody Ninyette and Brett Rumford gave the locals plenty to cheer on day three of the ISPS HANDA Perth International at Lake Karrinyup.
Ninyette, who predominantly plays on the co-sanctioning PGA Tour of Australasia, holds the lead on eight under par going into the final round following a 67 today.
However, Rumford matched the course record with a 65 to be only behind, alongside Dane JB Hansen and Korea’s former Amateur Champion Jin Jeong.
Rumford started his round at the tenth having been seven shots off the lead at the start of the day, but birdied four of his first six holes to turn in 32 and make swathes through the field.
After another birdie at the first, the 36 year old struck his tee shot to three feet at the fifth, came within an inch from chipping in at the sixth, splashed out to a foot from a bunker at the seventh and holed a 25 footer at the eighth.
A par on his last hole would have seen the five-time European Tour winner, who claimed back-to-back titles in the Far East earlier this season, card a new course record, but he three-putted the ninth for his only bogey of the day.
“The greens were receptive with the wedges, and my wedge game was great today,” said Rumford – who at eighth on The Race to Dubai is on course to secure a share of the $3,750,000 bonus pool that will be share by the top ten players after the Final Series, which begins next week.
“It was a mixed bag of everything that was working well. It’s disappointing to have three putted the last, no doubt about it, but obviously my mind set, playing so well, was too aggressive on the last.
“It's great to play in front of the local galleries. It was nice to get out there and just to play some nice golf.
“The crowds were starting to increase as my round progressed and it was giving me an indication of how I was going.
“It would be massive to win on home soil. You win a couple of times and you think, let's go out and do it again but it doesn't quite happen that way and you realise how hard it is to win out here.
“There are so many great players, and the last nine holes of any championship can just swing so quickly, as it did in China. Mikko Ilonen got within one or two, whatever it was, and all of the sudden a few holes later, I'm leading by six just in the space of nothing and it can turn just as quick, negatively, as it can positively. I've got myself in position to win; I'll be working hard and that's what I'll be focusing on for the next 24 hours.
“Winning in front of your home crowd, there would be nothing better than that, that's for sure.”
The highlight of Ninyette’s seven birdies came with a 25 foot effort on the sixth, and he admits that leading on Sunday will be a new experience.
“I've been playing well the last few days,” he said. “It was good to hole a few putts and get myself into contention.
“It's obviously a very new experience, so try and get some sleep and see how we go tomorrow.”
When asked what victory tomorrow would mean, Ninyette added: “Obviously being able to play in Europe next year; that would be one of the bigger things. Just getting to travel a lot more.
“It would be amazing. It would be a whole new experience, getting out there and playing over there would be unreal to see how the world's best do it. I've only played these sort of tournaments in Australia.”
At 90th on The Race to Dubai Hansen needs a good week to increase his chances of featuring in the Final Series, and his blemish-free round put him firmly in contention for a maiden European Tour victory.
“I just played great all day,” he said. “I kept the ball in play and I holed the important putts I needed to hole.
“It's a great score, just what I needed to move up in the field. Hopefully I will be in a good position tomorrow.
“I’m going to have fun tomorrow and enjoy. I'm on top of the leaderboard, so see what it brings.”
Jeong has featured on The Challenge Tour this season, and he fired in a 20 foot birdie putt at the last to move to within one of the lead.
Overnight leader Peter Hedblom, needing a win to retain his European Tour card, drifted into the pack with a three over 75.
Only the top 110 players on The Race to Dubai at close of play on Sunday will retain their cards for next season, and of those needing to climb the rankings 130th-placed Fredrik Andersson Hed and 136th-placed Richard Finch gave themselves the best chance by moving into a share of fifth on sixth under.
Both players are former European Tour winners, and England’s Finch require a top-three finish, while Swede Andersson Hed must finish in the top five to trouble those on the bubble.