Michael Hoey will resume his third round just two strokes off the lead in the weather-delayed Hero Indian Open.
As Paul Dunne followed his best week as a professional by slipping to an 83, his highest round since he made the move, Hoey completed 12 holes of his third round in two under par to share fifth place when play was suspended for the day.
The 38-year-old, who his seeking a win that would see him regain the playing privileges he lost last season, is chasing Carlos Pigem of Spain, defending champion SSP Chawrasia of India and England's Eddie Pepperell.
They lead on six-under-par after 11 holes, just one stroke better than Malaysia's Gavin Green, who chipped in for birdie at the 17th before play was suspended for the day.
Hoey, who is playing on an invitation, birdied the second, ninth and 11th before dropping a shot on the 12th just before play was suspended due to darkness.
The five-time European Tour winner finished the day tied for fifth with David Horsey (11 holes) on four-under-par.
Greystones' Dunne, who moved to a high of 224th in the world following his career-best share of sixth in the Tshwane Open last week, missed just his second cut since last year's Portugal Masters.
After opening with a level par 72, he resumed his weather-delayed second round on two-over-par with ten holes to play but never got anything going and covered the back nine in nine-over 45.
He had no physical problems, he said, and simply struggled with his game.
No doubt the effects of playing seven events in an eight-week stretch took a toll on the 23-year old from Co Wicklow, who is 49th in the Race to Dubai with 126,205 from eight starts.
He is also 41st in the new Access List.
The European Tour reported:
With almost four hours of play lost to weather delays over the first two days, the lead changed hands numerous times throughout the afternoon as the birdies began to stack up on the challenging Gary Player Course at DLF Golf and Country Club.
Pepperell lost his card last season but reclaimed it at Qualifying School and is now aiming for a first European Tour win in his first made cut of the season.
Playing partners Chawrasia and Pepperell reached six under with seven to play when darkness descended on day three and Pigem will face a putt on the 12th green to take the lead outright when play resumes on Sunday morning.
Malaysia's Gavin Green was shaping up to be the story of the day when his round caught fire on the fifth hole as he embarked on a stunning six birdie streak that propelled him to five under par. A bogey birdie-finish left the big-hitting rookie one back from the leaders with one hole remaining...
Scott Jamieson also found form on day three, starting the round in impeccable fashion with three birdies in his first four holes. Two more birdies and a bogey put the Scot in a great position, but he double-bogeyed straight after the turn before pulling one shot back to finish the day at three under with four holes remaining.
He is joined by Frenchman Gregory Havret, who was on course to be amongst the leaders after a bogey-free front nine, before dropping shots on the 13th and 14th, his final two holes of the day.
America’s Peter Uihlein, his compatriot Paul Peterson, and Italian Matteo Manassero are two further back at one under par.
“The front nine is pretty demanding off the tee. I hit a lot of good tee shots, so I’m happy with that. I started to ship a bit, you know I missed a few putts, but I’m still in there and we’ll see how tomorrow goes. It will be another long day. I guess I can take confidence from what I’ve done today. I managed to keep my form pretty good all day. I’ll try to do that again tomorrow.
“I’ve just got to keep doing what I’m doing. I’ve got a game plan. I’m hitting a three wood off tees and trying to get the ball in play. Then if I keep hitting my irons pretty well and hole the odd putt, well, this is a course where you’ve got to just hang in there when things aren’t going your way and try not to make a big number.
“Danny Chia birdied the first and then makes nine on the second. He’s not out of the tournament, but it will feel like that to him. That’s the kind of thing you’ve got to avoid around here. A bogey isn’t a bad score, it’s not going to do you much harm. I’ll just keep the same mindset, keep doing the same things, and see where I am this time tomorrow night.”
“I stuck to the same game plan that I have had for the first two rounds. I just want to hit straight, keep the ball in play and keep giving myself chances all the time.
“I am happy that I managed to do that, despite the bogey I dropped. On this course, a few misses (on the green) are bound to happen, but one cannot think about them. For instance on the sixth, I had a long par putt and I holed it after coming out of the bunker.
“Last night I was relaxed and just focused on positive thoughts from last year and the resolved to stay focused. I have not looked at what others are doing – it does not matter if someone else is going for the green or trying something else. I will do what I have planned and what has worked for me.”
“I’m really happy about my round. I started strong with two birdies. I made one mistake with a bogey, then got another few more birdies. So if I can keep playing really good, let’s see what can happen tomorrow.
“The most important thing on this course is to have patience. This course is really tough, and you need to know when you can be aggressive and when you should be more conservative. That’s the key. Obviously, the greens are really big with lots of slopes, and it’s very tough to make putts.
“I’m really excited. It was a shame to finish today because I was playing really good. But I will have a good sleep and see if tomorrow I can play as good as today.”