Jason Day edges ahead in Australian Open
Last Updated: 25/11/17 8:13am
Jason Day is on track to win the Australian Open for the first time after taking a one-shot lead following the third round at The Australian Golf Club.
Day, making his first appearance back home since 2013, carded a two-under 69 in tough, windy conditions to move to 10-under 203 with 18 holes remaining.
The former world No 1 is one ahead of his fellow Australian Lucas Herbert with Sweden's Jonas Blixt and Matt Jones of Australia two shots further back.
American Jordan Spieth, the defending champion, looks out of contention after shooting a one-under 70 which left him eight behind Day in a tie for 17th place on two under.
Day started his round one shot behind halfway leader Herbert and he began on a low note as he pushed his opening tee shot into the trees.
He managed to make a remarkable recovery shot between two trees and over another and was just in front of the green for his third shot. He pitched to about five feet and made the putt for par.
The 30-year-old was unable to produce any more fireworks on the front nine, though, hitting only three of seven fairways as he turned in level par.
Further pars followed at the next four holes before Day's patience finally paid off with back-to-back birdies at the 14th and 15th which took him into the lead.
He dropped a shot when he bogeyed his penultimate hole for the second day in a row, but birdied the last to edge back in front of Herbert, who posted a level-par 71.
"I think anything in the 60s tomorrow will seal the deal," said Day. "I just need to focus on the golf course and not do anything too crazy."
Herbert had led by two shots at one stage but he dropped back alongside Day following a double bogey at the par-three 11th where he lost his ball in thick bushes following a wayward tee shot.
Blixt charged up the leaderboard into a share of third after a flawless 66, while Jones, the 2015 Australian Open champion, signed for a 68.
Australia's Cameron Smith, who teamed up with Blixt to win this year's Zurich Classic of New Orleans, is in fifth place at six under after firing a third consecutive round of 69.
Spieth mixed three birdies with two bogeys as he failed to make any inroads on the leaders, although he has not given up hope of snatching victory after closing with a 63, a then-course record at The Australian, to win the Australian Open title for the first time in 2014.
"Yeah, that's what we need," Spieth said. "We need eight under; that would probably be enough given the conditions for tomorrow, may not even need that much but it's going to be so difficult tomorrow that I'll go out and try and get under par early and just see what the golf course gets to.
"If there's any place to come from way behind, it's here, from what I've seen.
"Tomorrow's going to be a grind for the leaders, going off even later. If I can sneak a few breaks in, get a couple of long putts to go or chip in or something like that. I'm going to have to have some magic."
The round of the day belonged to Takumi Kanaya, a 19-year-old Japanese amateur, who had six birdies and a bogey on the back nine for a 65, leaving him tied for eighth, six behind Day.