Saturday, 23 March 2019
Nacho Elvira  (Getty Images)
Nacho Elvira (Getty Images)

Nacho Elvira has a first European Tour title in his sights as he heads into the final round of the Maybank Championship with a two shot lead.

Spaniard Elvira closed his round with back to back birdies on Saturday to sign for a sensational 66, which moved him to 13 under par and gave him breathing space at the top of the leaderboard.

Alfred Dunhill Championship winner David Lipsky was Elvira's nearest challenger on 11 under after carding seven birdies and two bogeys in his third round 67.

Maximilian Kieffer, Jazz Janewattananond and Scott Hend were another stroke back in a tie for third, one ahead of Ernie Els and Frenchman Benjamin Hebert, whose 65 was the lowest round of the day and the joint lowest of the week so far.

Elvira, a four time winner on the European Challenge Tour, started the day a single shot behind halfway leader Thomas Pieters after he carded a double bogey and a bogey in two consecutive holes on his back nine on Friday to surrender the lead.

But he made amends early on day three, tapping in his close range birdie putt at the par five first before sending his approach at the third to within a few feet to join Pieters at the summit.

The 32-year-old took the outright lead when he made another gain from a similar distance at the long fifth.

And he kept his foot on the gas, launching his tee shot to four feet from the pin at the seventh and knocking in his birdie putt to get to 11 under.

Elvira came agonisingly close to holing his chip shot for another birdie on the ninth but it narrowly avoided the hole.

He found himself in a four way tie for the lead when he dropped his first shot of the day at the 11th after getting into trouble off the tee.

And he slipped from the summit altogether when Lipsky made back to back birdies at the 13th and 14th to get to 12 under.

But Elvira stayed calm, holing his downhill 15 foot birdie putt on the 13th green to get to 11 under, before saving par from eight feet at the next.

After Lipsky had made a bogey at the 17th to fall back to 11 under, Elvira rolled in from 12 feet for a gain at the same hole to regain the outright lead.

And he extended his advantage with another birdie at the last after sending his bunker shot to within six feet of the cup.

After his round, Elvira said: "The putter worked a bit better than yesterday, especially coming down the stretch. I'm very happy with a 66. 

"It was tough with the heat and humidity today. I stayed patient and it paid off in the end.

"It would be great to start here (winning on the European Tour) but I really don't think about it too much. 

"I like the way things are right now with my swing. I like the way I've turned round my season a little bit. Let's see what tomorrow brings."

Lipsky catapulted himself towards the top of the leaderboard after opening his round with three straight birdies on Saturday.

The American dropped his first shot of the day on the long fifth but bounced back with birdies at the sixth and seventh to grab a share of the lead.

Lipsky was the solo leader after tapping in from close range for a birdie at the 13th and he moved to 12 under with another gain at the next.

But he carded a second bogey at the 17th to slide back to 11 under and Elvira took full advantage, finishing with a pair of birdies to pull two clear.

"My game is feeling pretty good," said Lipsky. "These last two days I've figured something out and just started clicking. 

"The last two or three weeks my putting has held me back but I've been putting well the last two rounds. I'm excited for tomorrow."

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1HEND, ScottAUS18-15
2ELVIRA, NachoESP18-15
4VEERMAN, JohannesUSA18-12
T5FISHER, OliverENG18-11
T5KIEFFER, MaximilianGER18-11

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