Abu Dhabi: Gaganjeet Bhullar has a fair chance of staking his claim on Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf as the Indian golfer on Saturday carded a flawless six-under 66 to move to tied third place after the penultimate round of the European Tour event here.
Playing in his first event of the year on European Tour as a full member, Bhullar moved up through the field from overnight tied 13th to join five-time Major winner, Phil Mickelson (63), who himself was in sublime form today.
Ahead of Bhullar and Mickelson were Lee Craig (69) at 12-under and in second place was former World No. 1 Rory McIlroy (68) at 11-under.
Bhullar and Mickelson are at 10-under 202 and will likely play together on the final day.
After finishing his third round, Bhullar said, "I saw a lot of familiar faces on the back nine. There were quite a few Indian supporters walking and following me. It kind of really motivates me and hope to see these guys coming out in a big number tomorrow."
Bhullar's colleagues and compatriots Jeev Milkha Singh (74) and Shiv Kapur (75) slipped down the greased pole and were tied 67th at two-over 214.
Bhullar was ecstatic about his performance.
"Absolutely, that feels really nice. Ever since I've arrived here, I've been striking the ball really good. I knew that I could go low, and thankfully today was one of my lucky days," said the 25-year-old Indian.
"I had a lot of good breaks, putted really well and gave myself a lot of opportunities of making birdies and I guess at the end of the day I'm quite happy with 66."
On the possibility of a pairing with some of the best players in the world, Bhullar said: "It's a great feeling. Last year (at CIMB Classic and WGC) I got paired up with a lot of the big names in the world and it was quite good. You get to learn a lot of new stuff about yourself, about the game, and I think it will be one of those enjoyable Sundays."
Bhullar added: "I need to get used to it. There is no other way out. Last year I got paired up with a lot of world-class names and now I think it's time for me to upgrade my game and get mentally used to playing with these guys."
When asked if he believed that he can go out tomorrow and beat these guys and win this tournament, Bhullar said: "Absolutely, at the end of the day it is another 72-hole stroke-play event, and I think that if I have done five times in Asia, why can't I do it on The European Tour."
On his third round play, Bhullar said: "I played really well today. I hit about maybe 16 greens in regulation. I really hit the ball good off the tee and really enjoyed hitting a lot of greens in regulation. I made two or three good par saves and I think that kept me going."
About his first year on European Tour, he said, "I've enjoyed a lot of success on The Asian Tour, and I think right now it's time to focus on The European Tour. It feels really good to be a full member on The European Tour and I'm going to try to give my hundred percent tomorrow.
"I've played enough on European soil and I've played quite a few European Tour events the last few years, and just working hard and hoping for the best to happen."