Jason Day (Getty Images)
Home favourite Jason Day leads Denmark’s Thomas Björn by a shot going into the final round of the ISPS HANDA World Cup of Golf at Royal Melbourne.
Day’s five under par 66 took him to nine under par, and the World Number 18 also leads the team competition in tandem with Adam Scott.
Björn went four clear when he birdied the first from six feet and nearest rival Kevin Streelman dropped four shots in three holes from the second.
The 42 year old was still three ahead when he turned in a level par 35, but by failing to break par on the way in Björn saw his lead erode as the Dane signed for a 71.
Day had birdied the first from ten feet and two-putted the long second for another gain.
However, it was a 20 footer at the ninth that really got the 26 year old’s round going.
An approach to eight feet at the 13th and birdie putts of 20 feet at the 15th and ten feet at the 17th saw him come home in 33 to lead on home soil.
“I got off to a good start and I stayed patient and just let it happen,” said Day. “On the way home I made a load of putts. I’m very excited with how I played today.
“This sort of course you have to be patient; you can’t get to the point where the course is beating you up.”
With World Number Two Scott carding a 68 to get to two under, Australia lead defending champions America by one in the team competition.
“Scotty’s been playing great,” Day added. “It would be very fitting for us to bring it home at Royal Melbourne for all the people that have been here supporting us.”
Despite being deposed as leader, Björn was bullish about his chances of victory.
“I have played really, really well again today and the putter just didn’t really do what it had to do and I am happy with the way I am playing,” he said.
“I am doing everything right and playing the golf course the way it should be played.
“It was disappointing the couple of mistakes I made, but in general I am in a good position and it’ll be good fun tomorrow.
“I’m up against a guy that we all know what he is capable of and I’ve got to go out and try and keep playing the same sort of golf that I have been playing for three days and hopefully roll a few putts in.”
America’s Matt Kuchar sits third on six under after a second consecutive 68, while Italy’s Francesco Molinari matched Day’s best-of-the-day 66 to move into fourth on five under.
“It was obviously a very good day, pretty much the same start as yesterday,” said Ryder Cup star Molinari, who won the 2009 staging under the old format with brother Edoardo.
“The course is great, it’s playing great, fast, and the fairways are not too firm but the greens are really hard so it’s a really good test.
“I think winning in China [in 2009] was obviously very special for both of us. But still, winning the individual it would be fantastic, especially on a golf course like this with such great history. I think it would be pretty much the same feeling.”