If Friday was a grind, Saturday was brutal for Blake Windred at the 2019 Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship.
The World No.11 is in a four-way tie for the lead as only 18 holes remain to decide which of Asia’a top amateurs will be headed to the 2020 Masters and The 149th Open.
Windred started the day one ahead of the field and after a rollercoaster 2-over-74, a share of the lead with one round to go feels like a win of sorts.
“This is why I practise every day,” Windred said.
“I love this stuff and I've always dreamed of playing on TV in front of my family.
“I dreamt of these things. I'd love to close out a low round tomorrow.”
The New South Welshman is tied at the top with Japanese duo Ren Yonezawa and Yuto Katsuragawa and Taiwan’s Yung-Hua Liu.
Korean Won Jun Lee and defending champ Takumi Kanaya are one stroke further back, setting up what promises to be an exhilarating final day.
Windred broke clear of the pack with his first birdie of the day at the par-4 5th, climbing to 11-under for the first time this week.
Standing on the 8th tee his lead had grown to two, with Japanese pair Yonezawa and Katsuragawa both at 9-under.
But Windred yanked his tee shot out of bounds and after laying up at the par-5, came inches from holing out for par.
“I kind of forgot I made a bogey there actually because I felt like I moved on really quickly. To manage an up-and-down there just felt like a birdie,” Windred said.
Another bogey followed, this time from the fairway at the brutal par-4 9th, Windred’s buffer suddenly just one as he slid back to 9-under.
But a monster down the hill on 10 helped Windred save par and from that point on it was a slog the whole way back to the clubhouse.
“I hit such a good putt,” Windred said. “I was so pleased with that. That felt like a birdie.”
The 21-year-old made bogeys on 11 and 12 to slip to 7-under for the first time since the 16th hole on Thursday.
He wasn’t the only one battling to stay afloat, leaderboards across Sheshan International being furiously updated as the bogeys began to flow.
“I was looking, for sure,” Windred said. “It didn't really faze me at all.
“I know there's another round to go. I know it's about putting myself in a good position. I’m still in the lead.”
Windred was two back of playing partner Yonezawa standing on the 18th tee before a potentially tournament-defining two-shot swing unfolded.
After laying-up, Windred stiffed his approach to a metre below the hole and coolly slotted the putt for birdie, while the Japanese young gun walked off with a bogey.
“I didn't feel great on the 18th tee mentally,” Windred said.
“But I just remembered, there's another day and another opportunity to shoot a low score and take home the trophy. That kind of pumped me up a little bit, and then I was in the right space to make a birdie on the last.”
To the other Australians and it was Karl Vilips who lit Sheshan up in the morning with four birdies in his opening 11 holes.
Another birdie at 16 took Vilips to 5-under for the day and momentarily he was in contention, before a crippling double-bogey on 18 meant he had to settle for a Saturday 69 to be 4-under for the week.
Two shots further back for the week are Nathan Barbieri (71) and Jack Thompson (73) in a share of 16th, that duo both unable to produce their best golf so far this week.
David Micheluzzi (70) and Kyle Michel (72) both produced their lowest scores in the third round but will both likely be playing their final round as amateurs before turning professional tomorrow.
What they said… with Nathan, Jack, Kyle & David