Macau - Australian long hitter Scott Hend stormed into the lead following the third round of the Macau Open on Saturday with a blistering eight-under-par 63 to open up a four-shot lead over Ernie Els.
The South African four-time major winner's chances of taking the top spot at the $800 000 tournament took a hit after Hend charged up the leaderboard with an eagle and seven birdies against a lone bogey for a three-day total of 12-under-par 201.
Els had a good start to the third round, scoring birdies on two of his first three holes.
But he struggled to maintain his early form with dropped shots on 14 and 16, eventually battling to a third round 69 and an overall score of 205.
He is currently placed in joint second with rising Bangladeshi newcomer Mohammad Siddikur who had been the tournament leader at the halfway point but dropped away from the lead after shooting 70 in the third round.
Speaking afterwards, Els said the tournament was still wide open going into the final day as he, Hend and Siddikur battle it out for the top spot.
"You just hope you get off to a good start and (your opponent) doesn't, and you're in the game. Or, you've got to have a hot finish. So there's a lot of golf left," Els said according to a release put out by the Asian Tour organisers.
"I felt I was a bit off here and there. I've got to go low tomorrow. It seems like Scott is playing really good. I played with him the first two rounds, and he had a tough start the first day, but since then, he's been on fire. I feel good for the challenge tomorrow. For some reason, I feel I've got a good chance."
But Hend will go into the final day buoyed by his barnstorming third round.
"(I) just played a little bit better today. That's all I can do," said Hend.
"I've set my goals I want to achieve. If hit my targets, that's all I can ask. If somebody else goes out and shoots 61 tomorrow, and I don't shoot a good enough round, then well done to them. I can only control myself and what I do and that's all I can ask of myself."
India's Rahil Gangjee (66), Filipino Elmer Salvador (70), Daisuke Kataoka of Japan (69) and Baek Seuk-hyun of Korea (70) all share fourth place, a further stroke back going into the final 18 holes on Sunday.
Scores after Round 3 of the Venetian Macau Open 2013 being played at the par 71, 6 606 Yards Macau GCC course:
201 - Scott Hend (AUS) 74-64-63
205 - Ernie Els (RSA) 71-65-69, Mohammad Siddikur (BAN) 69-66-70
206 - Rahil Gangjee (IND) 73-67-66, Daisuke Kataoka (JPN) 71-66-69, Elmer Salvador (PHI) 70-66-70, Baek Seuk-hyun (KOR) 71-65-70.
207 - Scott Barr (AUS) 68-69-70