(Reuters) - Australian Scott Hend upstaged four-times major winner Ernie Els by firing a brilliant eight-under-par 63 to take a four-shot lead after the third round of the Asian Tour’s Macau Open on Saturday.
Hend fired seven birdies and an eagle in his round for a 12-under total of 201 to open up a big gap on Els and Bangladesh’s Siddikur Rahman in tied second at the $800,000 event.
Hend had opened the tournament with a 74 but a 64 in Friday’s second round vaulted him up the leaderboard and his good work on Saturday put him within reach of his third win of the year.
“I’ve set my goals I want to achieve. If I hit my targets, that’s all I can ask. If somebody else goes out and shoots 61 tomorrow, and I don’t shoot a good enough round, then well done to them,” Hend told the Asian Tour.
“I can only control myself and what I do and that’s all I can ask of myself.
“The old adage is ‘Keep It Simple, Stupid’ and that’s pretty much what you’ve got to do out there. Just fairways, greens, and read the putts. Don’t over-complicate it.”
Els, twice British and U.S. Open champion, also began the Macau event slowly with a disappointing 71 but a second-round 65 put him back in contention.
A birdie on the 18th meant he signed for a two-under 69 on Saturday and will feature in the final group with Hend and Siddikur, who shot 70.
“I’ve got to go low tomorrow. It seems like Scott is playing really good,” Els said.
“I played with him the first two rounds and he had a tough start the first day but since then he’s been on fire.
“I feel good for the challenge tomorrow. For some reason, I feel I’ve got a good chance.”
Writing by Patrick Johnston in Singapore; Editing by Clare Fallon