Golf: Spain's Nacho Elvira takes 3rd-round lead in Malaysia, in hunt for first European tour title

Nacho Elvira playing a shot during the third round of the 2019 Maybank Malaysia Golf Championship, on March 23, 2019.
Nacho Elvira playing a shot during the third round of the 2019 Maybank Malaysia Golf Championship, on March 23, 2019.PHOTO: AFP

(REUTERS) - Spanish golfer Nacho Elvira took a two-shot lead over American David Lipsky after the third round of the Maybank Championship in Kuala Lumpur, on a hot and humid Saturday (March 23) to move one step closer to his first European Tour title.

Back-to-back birdies on the final two holes and five birdies before that gave Elvira a six under 66 and a 203 total at the Saujana Golf and Country Club. The 2017 runner-up Lipsky and Australian Scott Hend carded 67s.

Germany's Maximilian Kieffer (68), Thailand's Jazz Janewattananond (68) and Hend (67) were tied for third, three strokes behind Elvira.

"I'm very happy with a 66," Elvira, who was joint leader after the first round, told reporters. "It would be great to start here (winning on the European Tour) but I really don't think about it too much.

"I like the way things are right now with my swing. I like the way I've turned round my season a little bit, let's see what tomorrow brings."

Thomas Pieters, who had a one-shot lead after the second round on Friday, surrendered his advantage with a poor showing on the back nine where he had three double bogeys to finish with a six-over 78 and a 214 total on joint 42nd place.

Former world No. 1 Ernie Els is four strokes behind Elvira. The South African is tied for sixth with Frenchman Benjamin Hebert, whose 65 was the lowest round of the day.