Cameron Smith birdied three of his last six holes to grab a share of the lead at the Hong Kong Open on Saturday heading into the final round.
The 2022 Open champion, who started the day tied second, carded six birdies against a lone bogey for a third-round five-under-par 65 at a damp Fanling.
The Australian, attempting to win Asia’s oldest professional golf tournament for the first time, was tied with overnight leader Phachara Khongwatmai of Thailand on 16 under overall.
The leading duo was a shot ahead of New Zealander Ben Campbell, with Taiwan’s Lee Chieh-po a further shot back in the $2-million Asian Tour International Series event.
Graeme McDowell, the 2010 US Open champion, was lurking in tied seventh, four shots off the pace.
South Africa’s Jaco Ahlers is 10 under (T13) after a third-round 64 that included eight birdies and two bogies. Countryman Jbe Kruger (68) is a further shot behind.
The 30-year-old Smith, one of the biggest names to jump ship to the lucrative Saudi-backed LIV Golf tour, said it had been “a bit of a grind out there today”.
“Hopefully it can be stress-free tomorrow. I found parts of the course I don’t want to see ever again.
“It was a grind, but I was happy with the way I hung in there, with the way I was able to make the most of the opportunities that did come.”
The Hong Kong Open is back for the first time since 2020 following a break because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
© Agence France-Presse