Kuala Lumpur: Anirban Lahiri, who has rather uneventful even-par rounds on the first two days, exploded into action on the third with a flawless six-under 66, which carried him to tied 14th at the Maybank Malaysian Open here on Saturday.
Saturday's performance made Lahiri the best of the six Indians left over the weekend as he is now six-under 210 and eight shots behind the leader, Lee Westwood (71).
Westwood, four clear of the lead, is now just one ahead of countryman Andy Sullivan after a tough third round.
Westwood, winner here in 1997, battled to a one-under-par 71 under sweltering conditions for a three-day total of 14-under-par 202 at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club.
Former Walker star Sullivan produced the day's joint low round of 66 to charge into contention at the US$2.75 million championship sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour.
Among other Indians, SSP Chowrasia, the top Indian on first two days shot a third successive under par round with a 71 but still slipped from tie 18th to tied 23rd, where he was tied with fellow Indian Rahil Gangjee (70).
Shiv Kapur carried on his upward move after making the cut on the line with a round 69 and he his 35th. Chiragh Kumar (75) fell to tied 60th, while Rashid Khan after two successive 72 ballooned to 76 and was now tied 65th.
"I'm happy, really happy with how I played. I've been playing good the last two days, just wasn't making putts. I came out and just putted much better. I've been working on it and it's nice to have that improved. I was probably trying a bit too hard the last two rounds and just relaxed a little bit playing with Rashid Khan and Pariya Junhasavasdikul. It was a great day," said the 26-year-old Lahiri.
"In the last couple of days, I was getting in my own way a little bit and it was good to play nicely today." Lahiri hit 16 greens in regulation and got the putter hot as putts that were burning the edges in the last two days starting to find the middle of the cups in his third round.
"KLGCC is always tricky. The greens can be very deceptive. The greens are slightly slower this year and the grass is slightly longer than usual. The speeds have changed and the lines have changed. You need a bit of adjustments and it's quite tricky. I've been working on some things with my coach and I've stuck to it," said Lahiri.
Frenchman Julien Quesne fired a 69 to lie four off the pace in third place while Ryder Cup star Nicholas Colsaerts of Belgium settled for a 72 to trail a further shot back in the Malaysian capital.
Japan's Masahiro Kawamura, a winner on the Asian Tour last season, was the best placed Asian in tied fifth position following a 70, six shots behind Westwood who has led since the opening round. Filipino Antonio Lascuna, playing in the last group with Westwood, shot a disappointing 77 to drop to tied 23rd position.
Title holder Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand had to withdraw before the start of the third round due to tonsillitis.