String of birdies sees Aiken ahead of the pack

South Africa's Thomas Aiken today produced a stunning scoring burst to charge into the lead midway through the third round of the Avantha Masters.

String of birdies sees Aiken ahead of the pack

South Africa's Thomas Aiken today produced a stunning scoring burst to charge into the lead midway through the third round of the Avantha Masters.

Aiken started the day four shots off the lead shared by China's Liang Wenchong and Thailand's Chapchai Nirat, but raced to the turn in 30 and then birdied the 10th for good measure.

The 29-year-old from Johannesburg, winner of the Spanish Open in 2011, birdied the first, eagled the par-five second and then picked up further birdies at the fifth, seventh and eighth at Jaypee Greens Golf Club.

When he birdied the 10th to move to 15 under, Aiken had a two-stroke lead over a six-strong chasing pack.

That group included overnight leaders Liang and Nirat as well as Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Australia's Scott Hend, England's Tommy Fleetwood and Scotland's David Drysdale.

Aphibarnrat had also gone out in 30 with six birdies in eight holes, but bogeyed the 10th, while Fleetwood and Drysdale were both three under for the day approaching the turn.

Fleetwood won the Challenge Tour in 2011 but needed a top-six finish in his final event of 2012 to retain his card for this season, while Drysdale is seeking a first European Tour title at the 291st attempt.

England's David Howell was sharing the clubhouse lead on 11- under after a flawless 65.

Aiken's lead was briefly wiped out when Aphibarnrat holed out from a bunker to eagle the par-five 12th, but Aiken quickly responded with a birdie on the 11th to edge ahead again.

When he two-putted the par-five 15th for birdie and Aphibarnrat bogeyed the 17th, Aiken suddenly had a three-shot lead over the chasing pack.

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