Fisher turns the screw at Tshwane Open
3:24pm Saturday 1st March 2014 in © Press Association 2014
England's Ross Fisher will take a commanding lead into the final round of the Tshwane Open on Sunday after separating himself from the chasing pack.
Fisher was just one shot ahead at the halfway stage but carded a five-under-par 67 on Saturday to finish 18 under par, five shots ahead of Northern Ireland's Michael Hoey.
Simon Dyson and Spain's Carlos del Moral are a shot further back on 12 under, with Ireland's Kevin Phelan in a seven-strong group another stroke adrift.
Fisher got off to a shaky start at Copperleaf with a bogey at the first, but birdied the second and third - both thanks to putts of around 25 feet - before scrambling a par on the fourth after finding a bunker off the tee.
The 33-year-old former Ryder Cup player found more sand on the par-three fifth and missed from four feet for par, but hit back in superb fashion with an approach to the sixth which finished just inches from the hole.
A carbon copy of that shot on the next gave the world number 82 another birdie and he holed from 12 feet on the ninth as well to reach the turn in 33.
Two more excellent iron shots on the 13th and 16th gave Fisher further birdies and put him in pole position for a fifth European Tour title, his last coming in the Irish Open in 2010.
"I didn't get off to the best of starts on the first but then found my range on the second and third and that really got me settled in," Fisher said.
"I hit it very close on six and seven after dropping one on five, so that was a nice bounce back and it felt like I played a lot better on the back nine. I missed a couple of make-able ones but I am not going to be sat here too unhappy with 67 in those conditions.
"Three rounds down, one to go. Five shots is a nice lead but a lead is never too big. I expect guys behind me to shoot good scores, so if I want to win I need to shoot something in the 60s, keep playing aggressive golf and making as many birdies as I can."
Fisher reached a career-high 17th in the world in 2009 after finishing fifth in the US Open and winning the Volvo World Match Play Championship, but is currently ranked 82nd after failing to keep his card on the PGA Tour in 2013.
"Last year for me was quite a change in lifestyle," Fisher said. "I enjoyed it but I'd be lying if I said I didn't miss Europe. I missed the camaraderie and the banter you get on the driving range, you don't quite get that in America, it's a lot more serious.
"The primary goal is to get back into the top 50, I feel like I belong there. I've been there before, struggled the last couple of years to get back in there, but I feel like I am playing as good as I ever have been and similar to when I was contending in majors and got myself into the 2010 Ryder Cup team.
"If I were to go out there tomorrow and shoot a good score and win, it would be a massive confidence booster and a big step in the right direction."
Hoey had carded seven birdies in a row during his second round of 65, one off the European Tour record, but was unable to repeat such heroics on Saturday.
The five-time European Tour winner carded six birdies and three bogeys in his 69 and will partner Fisher in the final group on Sunday.
Dyson had looked set to join Hoey on 13 under but bogeyed the last after a poor approach and had to settle for a 71 that was matched by playing partner Del Moral, winner of the tour qualifying school last November.