Kuala Lumpur: An unfortunate visit to the water hazard on the 11th derailed Shiv Kapur's determined bid at the USD 7 million CIMB Classic here, but he fought back with two birdies later on to card one-under 71 and keep himself in line for a good finish.
Kapur is six-under through 54 holes to be tied 16th and six shots behind the leaders, Chris Stroud (68) and Ryan Moore (69) at the only event co-sanctioned by Asian and PGA Tours.
Kapur is the third best Asian after Kiradech Aphibarnrat (69), who is tied third, and KJ Choi (70) who is tied 11th.
Other Indians in the fray, Gaganjeet Bhullar, a four-time Asian Tour winner, returned with a 71 to sit at tied 27th on 213, while Anirban Lahiri struggled with a 75 for 64th place.
Asian hopes lie with Kiradech, who is just one behind the leaders. A win on Sunday will earn Kiradech a handsome cheque of USD 1.26 million, playing rights on the PGA TOUR for essentially the next three years, a place at the Masters Tournament next April plus a host of other invitations.
Kapur conceded he must erase the mental mistakes to overcome a six-shot deficit from leaders Stroud and Moore.
"All parts of my game feel in good shape. I don't see any weakness right now. I just need to eliminate some mental mistakes," said Kapur.
"My goal is to go as low as I can. Obviously it is going to be tougher pins. They are going to make it as tough as possible. You want to try and make as many birdies. I haven't set myself any goals so it is just go out and shoot as low as I can and get to double digits," he added.
He traded two birdies against a bogey and another double bogey on 11th when his tee shot found water but is confident of shooting a low round & haul himself up on the leaderboard.
"It is tough to recover from a double bogey. I was playing pretty steady for most of the day. I played pretty well even after the double bogey. It is disappointing to shoot one-under-par even though you played better than that
"I'm taking in the positives because I fought back well to give myself birdie chances. I birdied 14 and 16, so am feeling good about my game going into tomorrow. I know there's a low one in the bag somewhere," said Kapur. Kiradech will play the most important 18 holes of his burgeoning career on Sunday after ending the third round of the CIMB Classic one shot behind the co-leaders.
The current Asian Tour number one battled to a three-under-par 69 in the third round at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club's West course, which ended with an anxious wait at the end of his round to review television footages of an incident at the 13th hole when his ball moved.
But after being cleared by the rules officials, the talented 24-year-old will now shoot for his biggest career victory, which would also be his second title on the West course after winning the Malaysian Open here in March.
"I feel really pleased with the way I'm playing. It was a good start, three days in a row on the front nine, but struggling a bit on the back. Three rounds, kind of mixed golf on the back nine. But I'm working on my putting a lot from yesterday, and that helped.
"I'm happy with three under, and just a good chance which I'll try to catch up in the final round," said Kiradech, who made three birdies and an eagle in his opening 10 holes before dropping a double bogey on 14.
Stroud, searching for his first PGA TOUR title, shot a 68 for a 12-under-par 204 aggregate alongside Moore, who returned a 69 as he seeks his third career victory at the CIMB Classic.
Another American, Gary Woodland moved into a share of third with Kiradech after a 67, while veteran Jerry Kelly shot a stellar 66 for fifth place, two behind the lead.