Scott Hend extended his lead to two shots at the Omega European Masters, where play was suspended overnight due to darkness following an earlier fog delay, despite a stuttering third round which left the Australian two over through 13 holes.
The Australian had opened up a three-stroke advantage early on in round three after starting with a birdie at the first, while his playing partner in the final group Darren Fichardt struggled to three successive opening bogeys.
In cold conditions at Crans-sur-Sierre Golf Club, Hend dropped a shot at the fourth and the fog delay seemed to take the wind out of the sails of numerous players on the course including the two-time European Tour winner from Queenstown.
Bogeys at at the eighth, 11th and 12th set him back but he managed to salvage a late birdie at the par three 13th before finishing up for the day to remain on the front foot on 11 under.
Matt Fitzpatrick followed his one under front nine with six successive pars on the back nine, his bogey-free run helping elevate him to a share of second place on nine under alongside South African Fichardt and Paraguay’s Fabrizio Zanotti, who were three over and level par through 12, respectively.
“It was all calm when we started but after we went back, it was just so cold out there. The greens got a little bit rough so I was just trying to be patient. Everyone was dropping shots. Some nice holes to finish with when we come back tomorrow so we will see how we will be positioned for the final round.
“I had a good start with a birdie on first. I hit a nice shot out of the rough, landed short but it run up to within 12 feet and I holed the putt from there. It was a nice start. Coming back after two holes, I felt like I was ready to play but the breaks sort of interrupted my preparation a little bit but we hung in there.
“It was nice to make another birdie on 13. It was a nice finish before they called off play for the day. It’s good to come back tomorrow on a positive note. I knew the weather would be like this today but I didn’t expect it to be this cold. The cold really surprised me.
“I will just come back here tomorrow and play like how I have played all week. Hopefully it’s good enough. We will see what happens.”
“It was a slow start and I’m disappointed not to be a couple better really. I didn’t hit a good drive on 14, missed a seven-footer for birdie on ten and I left one three inches short on 13 too so obviously if you make those shots I’m leading by one.
“It was frustrating and I would have liked to get 16 done just purely on a flow basis but I think it was about time we called it, it got a bit dark.
“It’s not been easy out there. Jamie, my caddie, has been really good and we’ve been on the ball with just being smart and not doing anything silly. That’s the thing out here, you can’t afford to make silly bogeys by missing greens with eight and nine irons.
“It was cold and wet and at altitude the ball doesn’t always go to the yardage so you’ve got to be switched on.
“I’m looking forward to tomorrow now and hopefully I can pick up one shot coming in and then go again in the afternoon and fire a low one to do the business.”
“It’s so beautiful out there. I got off to a low restart and then finished well with a birdie on the last. I carried out my momentum out there today so it was nice to make a few birdies today. It was tricky out there even though there was no wind. It was just cold and wet.
“We are so used to the ball going more than 10 per cent on this golf course and then all of a sudden, it’s back to normal and you have got your wet weather gear on. It’s quite a big change from what we are used to in the first two days.
“You got to try and adapt really quickly and I felt like I did a good job at that today. You never know what will happen playing in this kind of conditions. I am just happy to recover some of my good form.
“I haven’t really found any all year so it’s nice to finally make some putts and feel the ball on the club face again. Hopefully this week will build some good momentum heading into the rest of the year.”
“To be honest, I played really well today. A few silly mistakes really. The couple of bogeys was a shame. It could have been avoided. But I am still happy with the way I played. I played really well. I hit a nice drive down the 18th hole and make a birdie there as well. All in all, it has been a good day.
“The 18th hole has been a good hole for me so far. I have birdied the hole all three days. I was still telling my caddy earlier in the week that I don’t really like that hole. It’s a good hole but it didn’t really suit me before. I have hit some quality shots there. I was unlucky to get a divot there but I hit a great shot there.
“It feels pretty good overall, just a few silly mistakes out there. The ball is not going anywhere with this change in conditions out there. In the last two days, the ball goes about 10 per cent extra than we are normally used to because of the altitude but today, it’s not going anywhere at all. Luckily, there weren’t much wind to factor in but it was still difficult to figure out.”
“I am pleased with the way I played today. I putted well and that going my game going. It’s always tough to hit the ball well in this kind of conditions. It was cold and rainy. I played with Duncan today and we kind of keep each other going out there.
“It was nice to finish with that long one on the last. I will wait and see what happens tomorrow morning but the 64 yesterday could have been a lot better if I putted the way I did today. I am pretty happy with the way it has gone so far.
“I played well last week as well. Coming back from injury, I am ecstatic. The courses that we play back home on the Sunshine Tour are pretty similar to these and a lot of them are located on high altitude. It does play to our advantage this week because we kind of know how far the ball is going to go in this kind of conditions, or pretty much all kinds of conditions.
“Luckily the grass up here is not severe like the ones we play back home on the coast. It’s a really nice course. Seve did a good work around the greens too. My wife and my son are here with me this week. I spent the two and a half hours delay with them so it didn’t feel like a long wait.
“I was just spending time with them and trying to stay warm. It was nice because it got my mind off a bit. The first seven holes were pretty frustrating with seven straight pars. The birdie on nine got me going.”