Crans Montana: Australian Marcus Fraser battled against tough conditions at the Crans-sur-Sierre Golf Club to sign for a third round four-under-par 66, grabbing a share of the clubhouse lead at the weather-disrupted Omega European Masters on Saturday.
Fraser, a two-time Asian Tour winner, marked his card with one eagle and four birdies against two bogeys to match the efforts of South African Dean Burmester (68) and Lucas Bjerregaard (67) of Denmark on eight-under-par 202 total at the rain-swept course.
Play was first suspended at 2.36pm local time due to fog before resuming two and a half hours later. It was later abandoned for the day at 7.25pm due to fading light.
Overnight leader Scott Hend fought through brutal conditions in the afternoon with two birdies against four bogeys in 13 holes to stay atop the leaderboard on 11-under-par before play was called off for the day at the Crans-sur-Sierre Golf Club.
The 44-year-old Hend, who had held the lead for the last two rounds, will be among the 12 players to resume their rounds at 8.00am on Sunday. The fourth and final round is scheduled to start at 9.55am.
England’s Matthew Fitzpatrick was one-under-par through 15 while Fabrizio Zanotti of Paraguay and Darren Fichardt of South African were even-par and three-over respectively through 13 holes. The trio lurks two shots back of Hend.
The Swiss showpiece, which offers a prize purse of €2.7 million (approximately US$3.25 million), is the only tournament on European soil to be co-sanctioned by the Asian and European Tours.
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Fraser navigated his ways around the greens in just 26 putts.
The 39-year-old Fraser is making his eighth appearance at the Omega European Masters this week. His best result was a tied-second place finish in 2012.
Fraser finished second on the 2016 Asian Tour Order of Merit, thanks to one victory and three top-10 finishes.
Hend has his wife Leanne on his bag this week.
Hend, a nine-time Asian Tour winner, became the first Australian to win the Asian Tour Order of Merit in 2016.
Hend battled into a play-off against Alex Noren last year but was defeated by the Swede with a birdie against a par on the first extra hole.
Scott Hend (Aus) –Two-over-par through 13, Leads on 11-under-par with five to play
It was all calm when we started but after we went back, it was just so cold out there. The greens got a little bit rough so I was just trying to be patient. Everyone was dropping shots. Some nice holes to finish with when we come back tomorrow so we will see how we will be positioned for the final round.
I had a good start with a birdie on first. I hit a nice shot out of the rough, landed short but it ran up to within 12 feet and I holed the putt from there. It was a nice start. Coming back after the suspension, I felt like I was ready to play but the breaks sort of interrupted my preparation a little bit but we hung in there.
It was nice to make another birdie on 13. It was a nice finish before they called off play for the day. It’s good to come back tomorrow on a positive note. I knew the weather will be like this today but I didn’t expect to be this cold. The cold really surprised me.
I will just come back here tomorrow and play like how I have played all week. Hopefully it’s good enough. We will see what happens.
Dean Burmester (Rsa) – Third Round 68 (-2), Total 202 (-8)
I am pleased with the way I played today. I putted well and that going my game going. It’s always tough to hit the ball well in this kind of conditions. It was cold and rainy. I played with Duncan today and we kind of keep each other going out there.
It was nice to finish with that long one on the last. I will wait and see what happens tomorrow morning but the 64 yesterday could have been a lot better if I putted the way I did today. I am pretty happy with the way it has gone so far.
I played well last week as well. Coming back from injury, I am ecstatic. The courses that we play back home on the Sunshine Tour are pretty similar to these and a lot of them are located on high altitude. It does play to our advantage this week because we kind of know how far the ball is going to go in this kind of conditions, or pretty much all kinds of conditions.
Luckily the grass up here is not severe like the ones we play back home on the coast. It’s a really nice course. Seve did a good work around the greens too. My wife and my son are here with me this week. I spent the two and a half hours delay with them so it didn’t feel like a long wait.
I was just spending time with them and trying to stay warm. It was nice because it got my mind off a bit. The first seven holes were pretty frustrating with seven straight pars. The birdie on nine got me going.
Marcus Fraser (Aus) – Third Round 66 (-4), Total 202 (-8)
It’s so beautiful out there. I got off to a low restart and then finished well with a birdie on the last. I carried out my momentum out there today so it was nice to make a few birdies today. It was tricky out there even though there was no wind. It was just cold and wet.
We are so used to the ball going more than 10 per cent on this golf course and then all of a sudden, it’s back to normal and you have got your wet weather gear on. It’s quite a big change from what we are used to in the first two days.
You got to try and adapt really quickly and I felt like I did a good job at that today. You never know what will happen playing in this kind of conditions. I am just happy to recover some of my good form.
I haven’t really found any all year so it’s nice to finally make some putts and feel the ball on the club face again. Hopefully this week will build some good momentum heading into the rest of the year.