Aiken takes control with round of 62
South African 10 under for the day to move into a three-shot lead at Avantha Masters
Thomas Aiken of South Africa in action during day three of the Avantha Masters at Jaypee Greens Golf Club in Delhi, India. Photograph: Julian Finney/Getty Images
South Africa’s Thomas Aiken will take a three-shot lead into the final round of the Avantha Masters after charging through the field with a superb 10-under-par 62 today.
Aiken began the day four shots off the lead but carded eight birdies and an eagle for an 18-under-par total of 198 at Jaypee Greens Golf Course at Greater Noida.
The 29-year-old from Johannesburg, whose sole European Tour title to date came in the Spanish Open in 2011, covered the front nine in 30 thanks to four birdies and an eagle three when he holed a pitch shot on the second.
And he picked up four more birdies on the back nine to finish three clear of overnight joint-leader Liang Wenchong of China, who returned a 69. Scotland’s David Drysdale had looked set to be Aiken’s closest challenger following birdies at the 16th and 17th, but he drove into the water on the 18th and ran up a double-bogey six.
That left Drysdale, seeking a first tour win at the 291st attempt, sharing third on 14 under with Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat, with Australian Scott Hend, England’s Tommy Fleetwood and Finland’s Joonas Granberg a shot further back.
Former Ryder Cup player David Howell is in a tie for 12th on 11 under after a flawless 65.
Aiken was six under par after just eight holes, but insisted the thoughts of a historic 59 never entered his mind.
“I wasn’t really thinking about the score at all,” he told Sky Sports. “I got off to a great start with a birdie at the first and holing a pitch shot for eagle always helps, but from then on I just stuck to my game plan.
“I didn’t hit too many drivers on the front nine to take a lot of the trouble out of play and relied on hitting some good iron shots, which I happened to do today and converted them as well.
“All in all I’m very pleased with the way I played and it’s funny what can happen when you are not thinking about a score.
“I have been playing very well the last few months and just haven’t converted opportunities; there was always a round of level par or one over and fortunately this week I have converted a lot of the opportunities that I’ve had.
“I missed a few, as we all do, but the majority have gone in from inside 10ft and that makes the big difference from the scoring point of view.”
Spain’s Alvaro Quiros, making his first appearance for four months following wrist surgery in November last year, added a 69 to his two opening rounds of 70 to lie seven under par.