Abery’s purple patch ties Grace

A purple patch of three birdies and an eagle has seen Warren Abery move into a share of the lead at the Nashua Masters.

A purple patch of three birdies and an eagle in five holes on the closing stretch saw Warren Abery fire a best-of-the-day 65 and move into a share of the third round lead at the Nashua Masters on Saturday.

The Wild Coast Sun Country Club is one of his favourite courses, and it showed as he reeled in overnight leader Branden Grace who had to grind it out with a one-under 69 to prevent his chasing rival from edging clear heading into Sunday’s final round of this Sunshine Tour event in Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa.

“I’ve won here before,” pointed out an upbeat Abery, the 2006 Nashua champion.

I love playing the Nashua events and I feel like my game’s getting better every day, every hole, I feel like my swing’s getting better; I’m getting more confidence – everything’s looking good.”

Indeed he was looking better than ever as he made birdies on 12, 13 and 15, and better still when he eagled 16 for the cherry on top..

“That was one of the best six irons I’ve ever hit,” he said.

“My caddie Lucky and I just gelled beautifully on the back nine, and he told me I couldn’t go long with a six iron. I hit it perfectly and sank the putt for eagle,” he added.

Grace said: “I hit the ball better today than I did on the first two days, but putting has been a problem for me all year.

“But at least I went one-under, and I’m in the position I want to be with one round to go,” he said as he searches for his maiden professional victory.

Just a little more fortune could have had him a few shots clear going into the final round: ”

“I lipped out on 16 with my eagle putt and then I lipped out on 17 as well; and it happened to me on 15 too,”he said. “It was just one of those days.”

The pair led by two from Alan Michell, who battled his way around a gusty and drizzly Wild Coast layout to a one-over 71 – a round which included a double bogey, two bogeys and three birdies.

That was a solid round in the context of the conditions and highlighted the worth of Abery’s 65, comfortably the best round of the day.

Behind Michell, David Hewan will go into the final round on nine-under-par after his level-par 70 in round three, with Jake Roos a further shot back after he carded a solid two-under 68.

“I’m pleased with my round,” said Roos. “I just want to be in a position to challenge down the stretch tomorrow. I’m going to have a real go at it.”

He will have to go some, though, if he is to catch a dogged Abery and a determined Grace.