Oliver Fisher and Eddie Pepperell, compatriots and close friends, will lead the way in what is likely to be an almighty battle for the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters as the two Englishmen share a two-shot advantage heading into the final day at Doha Golf Club.
It was an enthralling moving day in the Qatari capital and, although the birdies and eagles were flowing in the benign conditions, the most special moment of round three came courtesy of a bogey from Pepperell.
The 27 year old, who is chasing a maiden European Tour title this week, thought he had hit a perfect approach to the par-four 12th but fell short and was faced with a difficult chip over a steep rocky upslope. His first attempt hit the rocks and landed just in front of the rockface, and his second suffered the same fate, meaning the tournament leader at the time was staring a double-bogey in the face, at best.
But with a stroke of magic, the Oxford player’s third chip over the rocks took one bounce and landed in the cup for a remarkable, and crucial, five.
He followed that up by holing a 30-footer for birdie at the 13th and picked up two more shots on the way home for a six under 66 and a 16 under total, where he was joined by Fisher, who birdied all of the final four holes for a stunning 65 as he targets a second European Tour victory and a first since 2011.
American Sean Crocker was two shots back on 14 under after a five under 67 and will join the two Englishmen in the final three-ball with an early tee-time due to forecast thunderstorms.
“I would say that was my best round of the week, especially with the position I was in going into the day. I hit a lot of good shots, I maybe lost a little feeling through the turn, but I bounced back nicely and I didn’t let it bother me.
“That’s a nice score on a Saturday and coming down the last few holes, certainly down the last seeing Oli on 16 under, I didn’t want to finish behind the leader so I’m happy to be at least tied.
“When I saw Oli was on 16 under I said that I wanted to birdie the last and I’ve managed to do that so mentally I feel like I’m up for it, my game is there and it’s just going to be a case of holing putts and getting into the rhythm of the round, keep on doing what I’m doing because I’m hitting a lot of good shots.
“Oli is a good friend of mine, although he is a closer friend of Rory McIlroy apparently! He’s a good lad so it’s going to be great to be out with him and Sean, who I think will definitely be 50 yards past me on most tees but we can deal with that.”
“I'm very pleased with my day today and looking forward to tomorrow. The important thing for me is to make sure I give myself enough time with things, to make sure I'm aware of what I'm doing and try and enjoy it as much as I can. I did that today and my caddie was great. I gave myself some chances coming in and thankfully I made them.
“It's always a strange course because you can play okay around here and not do too much. I felt like I missed some opportunities on the first and ninth and tenth, although they can play a bit tricky at times. I was really pleased to birdie 18.
“The most important thing for tomorrow is to go out and enjoy it. I'm good friends with Eddie so hopefully we'll have a bit of fun out there.”
“I had a good back nine again. I left a lot of shots out on that front nine today, missed a lot of putts but I’m just happy with myself that.
“I’m excited for tomorrow. It’ll be my first final grouping and I’ll be excited to get out there with a decent-sized crowd and get going and play with these guys. I’ll just play with what I’ve got and if it gets the job done, great. If not, it’s always fun just playing golf anyways.”