European Tour

SA's Fichardt holds 1-shot lead heading into final round of Qatar Masters

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Darren Fichardt. (PA/TEAMtalk media)
Darren Fichardt. (PA/TEAMtalk media)

South African Darren Fichardt will take a one-shot lead into the final round of the Qatar Masters as he goes in search of a second win in Doha, 18 years after his first.

The course may be different to the one where Fichardt lifted the trophy in 2003 but the tricky windy weather in the Qatari capital is largely the same, and the 45-year-old had to use all his guile in carding a one-under-par 70 to get to seven under.

England's Jack Senior was a shot back after a 71, a shot clear of India's Gaganjeet Bhullar, whose 68 was one of just four under-par rounds on day three.

Fichardt is a five-time winner on the European Tour and has won 18 times on his native Sunshine Tour in South Africa, but he had to go back to the Qualifying School in 2019 and was taking everything in his stride in the desert.

"I think the guys who are trying to win their first event, they are trying to win," he told the European Tour's official website. "If you've won a few times you know it's about doing the best you can do. The sun shines on everyone, if it's your week, it's your week. It's about doing the best you can do."

After a bogey on the fourth, Fichardt hit a beautiful shot into the fifth and added further birdies on the 10th and 11th to lead by two.

A double-bogey on the 13th was followed by a dropped shot on the next but birdies on the 16th and 17th edged him back in front.

Senior took advantage of the par-five second and led by two when he spun an approach to three feet on the next and made a two-putt birdie on the par-five sixth.

Bogeys on the seventh, ninth, 11th and 12th sent him tumbling back but he holed a long putt for birdie on the 13th as he looks for a first victory on a top-tier tour.

"That was a battle from start to finish," he said. "I got off to a half-decent start, quite a quick start really. Then the wind started gusting on the back nine, you just had to hang on for dear life.

"I'll just keep doing what I can control. All I can do is control what I'm doing. The old saying is it's one shot at a time but that's all you've got to do. Go out there with a clear head tomorrow and give it my best shot."

Wales' Jamie Donaldson was three shots off the lead after a 73, one clear of England's Chris Paisley.

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