Maybank Championship: Nacho Elvira two clear as Thomas Pieters crashes
Last Updated: 23/03/19 6:09pm
Nacho Elvira birdied the last two holes to claim a two-shot lead as Thomas Pieters crashed out of contention at the Maybank Championship in Kuala Lumpur.
Elvira, who had opened up a four-shot lead midway through the second round only to falter on the back nine, kept mistakes to a minimum and made seven birdies against just one bogey for a 66 and a 54-hole score of 13 under.
The Spaniard, chasing his maiden European Tour title, is two clear of David Lipsky after the American carded seven birdies and two bogeys in a 67, while Ernie Els kept himself in the hunt with a 69 that got him to nine under.
"The putter worked a bit better, especially coming down the stretch," said Elvira, who missed the cut in five consecutive tournaments at the start of the year. "I'm very happy with a 66. It was tough with the heat and humidity today. I stayed patient and it paid off in the end.
"The confidence is coming back little by little. It was a tough start of the season with the driver especially. I worked really hard with the Callaway guys to get the driver ready, I think it's working. I'm hitting more shots from the short grass so I'm happy.
"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."
Lipsky started his round with three straight birdies and looked likely to have at least a share of the lead when he also birdied 13 and 14, but he dropped his second shot of the day at the 17th to slip back to 11 under.
Maximilian Kieffer, Jazz Janewattananond and Australian Scott Hend share third place on 10 under, while Els struggled to make much happen for the majority of his round until he cheered the fans with birdies at 17 and 18 which lifted him within four of the leader.
But Pieters had a day to forget and plummeted down the leaderboard after making three double-bogeys and two other dropped shots on the back nine, although he did manage an eagle at the 13th in a torrid 78 that left him 11 strokes off the lead.