Shiv Kapur fired five birdies in a one-under-par 71 on Friday to join young compatriot Gaganjeet Bhullar at six-under heading into the final round of the US$2.5 million Commercial Bank Qatar Masters.
Bhullar was two-under for the day after the 10th, but the big-hitting 25-year-old suffered three bogeys on the way in for a 73 and a share of 24th place with Kapur and seven others.
Thai No. 1 Thongchai Jaidee remained at three-under-par after posting an even-par 72, a solid return considering the 44-year-old racked up a double bogey at the par-four 11th.
Jeev Milkha Singh showed great character to rescue his round, signing for a 73 to lie one-under overall, level with the likes of former World No. 1 Luke Donald.
Singh, 42, suffered six bogeys offset by one birdie to be five-over for the day after 12 holes, but the four-time European Tour winner showed his class to birdie four of the last five holes.
Kapur was the pick of the Asian contenders, starting off brightly with a birdie on the par-five first. The 31-year-old dropped a shot on the sixth, but quickly made up for it with a birdie on the next hole before another dropped shot on the par-five ninth meant he made the turn in 36.
The Indian started the back nine strongly with two straight birdies, but his charge was undone by bogeys on 12 and 14 before an impressive birdie on the par-three 17th ensured he finished the day in red figures and a good mood.
“I made a lot of birdies, five birdies today. It was a bit up and down, though. I would like to have shot a low score, but I made a couple of soft bogeys,” said Kapur, who is enjoying his return to The European Tour after a year on the Challenge Tour.
“If I had finished eight or nine-under, I would have been right in contention and in a really good position, but having said that, six-under is all right.
“It was a tough day, with blustery winds. It was a different direction as well, so four or five holes played quite tricky because it was the opposite to what we’ve been playing on the first couple of days or we had no wind.”
His third-round score matched his second, but Kapur said his Friday performance was far more impressive, especially considering the conditions.
“Yesterday was a bit scratchy, I didn’t have my A game, but today I struck the ball a lot better. Conditions were tougher, so it terms of conditions it was two shots better than yesterday.”
Kapur, who opened with a 68, is encouraged by his current form as he seeks to re-establish himself on The European Tour, where he spent seven years before losing his status after the 2012 season.
“I’m happy about my game. I think it was a little more challenging today, but overall I played well enough to be two or three shots better,” he said.
“You’d like to be as high up on the leaderboard as you can be, but having said that, a low one tomorrow and hopefully I can shoot up that leaderboard. Obviously I’d like to finish off the week on a high note and low round.”
The 2014 Commercial Bank Qatar Masters runs from Wednesday 22 January to Saturday 25 January. Final day tickets are still available to buy on the door at Doha Golf Club for QAR150. Entry is free for children under 15 years of age. For more information visit the tournament’s official website, www.qatar-masters.com.
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