Hoey and Phelan in the mix at Tshwane Open
Ross Fisher holds commanding lead but Michael Hoey leads chasing pack
Ross Fisher plays out of the fourth fairway bunker during the third round of the Tshwane Open at Copperleaf Estate. Photograph: Warren Little/Getty Images
Fisher, the halfway leader, enjoyed another fine round at Copperleaf, carding a round of 68 to move to 18 under for the tournament. That was good enough for a five-shot lead over Hoey, who had an eventful back nine for the second day running, with Phelan two shots further back.
Fisher got off to a shaky start at Copperleaf with a bogey at the first, but birdied the second and third — both thanks to putts of around 25 feet — before scrambling a par on the fourth after finding a bunker off the tee.
The 33-year-old former Ryder Cup player found more sand on the par-three fifth and missed from four feet for par, but hit back in superb fashion with an approach to the sixth which finished just inches from the hole.
A carbon copy of that shot on the next gave the world number 82 another birdie and he holed from 12 feet on the ninth as well to reach the turn in 33. Two more excellent iron shots on the 13th and 16th gave Fisher further birdies and put him in pole position for a fifth European Tour title, his last coming in the Irish Open in 2010.
Hoey, who put together a run of seven straight birdies from the 10th yesterday, mixed four birdies with two bogeys after the turn today as he moved into outright second spot on 13 under.
And Phelan was hot on his heels after an unfussy round of 68 helped him to 11 under. The 23-year-old from Waterford, who made the cut in the US Open last year while still an amateur and turned professional shortly after playing in the Walker Cup a few months later, began the day six shots off the lead after rounds of 68 and 69.
He picked up birdies on the fourth, sixth, seventh, 10th and 12th to move through the field but gave one back with a solitary bogey at the 14th.