Overnight leader Justin Harding of South Africa battled to a one-over-par 71 to stay atop the leaderboard following the penultimate round of the Royal Cup 2018 on Saturday.
The 32-year-old Harding reeled in 17 straight pars before dropping his first bogey of the week on the 54th hole, reducing his overnight lead to two after compiling a three-day total of 11-under-par 199 at the Phoenix Gold Golf and Country Club.
Defending champion Shiv Kapur of India propelled into solo second with a 67 while American Jarin Todd posted a 69 to stay three shots off the pace at the US$500,000 event.
Harding, who won his first Asian Tour start at the Bank BRI Indonesia Open two weeks ago, rued a cold putter and a wayward tee shot on the last which resulted in his only blemish this week. The South African, however, took pride in his battling performance as he continues to chase for back-to-back wins on the region’s premier tour.
Harding said: ‘It was a strange day, honestly. Didn’t enjoy making bogey on the last hole but I played solid. Can’t complain about the way I hit it today, guess I was just unlucky today. Hit a couple of bad putts on the back nine but I was never in trouble ever throughout the round.
‘It’s weird to say this but I am actually happy the bogey came because I would’ve actually liked to get the bogey towards the start of the round just to get it out of the way but it is what it is. I misjudged the wind and pulled my shot on that hole.
‘I let everyone back in it. If I played solidly and made a couple of putts, I could’ve maybe ran away with it so I will have more work to do tomorrow.
‘The front nine is awkward so I was pleased to have made that many pars and kept a steady pace.
‘I battled to read the greens today. I second guessed myself on a lot of holes so if I were to do anything different tomorrow, I would just trust my first line and stick to it.’