Masters-bound Antonio Murdaca has found form just weeks before the biggest tournament of his life.
The Grange ace fired a five-under round of 67 today to take control of the South Australian Amateur Classic at Royal Adelaide at nine under par after the third of four rounds.
He leads by four from Sydney’s Brayden Petersen, with the rest of the field another two shots further adrift after Adelaide’s overnight leader Alex Hendrick fired a 77 to slide into the ruck.
But the day belonged to Murdaca, who bounced from the gates with three opening birdies.
Despite a couple of bogeys later in his round, the charging presence of the Golf Australia national squad member was enough for the field to blink.
“The putter was working the first three holes,” Murdaca said with a grin.
“I hit it solid again today, I didn’t hit it as well off the tee as previous rounds but made a couple of good putts for par.
“I made soft bogeys on the 8th and 15th . but overall I am really happy with my round.
“Tomorrow is just about repeating today, hitting some good shots and making some putts.”
Murdaca had a similarly commanding run in the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship at Royal Melbourne in October when he became the first Aussie to win that prestigious crown and book his place at Augusta National.
Murdaca, 19, last week returned from his first scouting trip to Georgia, in preparation for next month’s Masters.
He is due to meet with Greg Norman in Sydney next week and is hopeful of playing a practice round with 2013 Masters champion Adam Scott when he returns to Augusta National after that.
Murdaca’s blistering start nearly came unstuck on the short par-4 eighth today, but he salvaged a bogey and then regained the dropped shot on the ninth.
He raced to nine under with further birdies on the 11th and 14th before a wayward second shot on the par-5 15th hole cost him another bogey.
But a birdie on the 18th ensured his comfortable lead as he seeks his first big win in his home state since the 2011 SA Junior Masters.