Newport, Wales – Thongchai Jaidee birdied two of his final four holes Saturday to take the lead after three rounds of the Wales Open.
Jaidee had stumbled to two bogeys earlier on his back nine, but the strong finish allowed him to post a four-under 67 and enter the clubhouse at seven-under par 206.
He will carry a one-stroke advantage into Sunday, when he will go for his fifth European Tour victory and first since 2009.
In close pursuit of Jaidee are Joost Luiten and Ross Fisher, who share second place at minus-six.
Luiten carded three birdies and an eagle during his back nine at Celtic Manor on the way to a seven-under 64, while second-round leader Ross Fisher birdied his last to salvage a round of even-par 71.
Fisher's performance was a notable one, considering he played with a toe injury he sustained Friday night after stubbing it on the bathroom floor.
"One of the toes is as purple as anything," Fisher said. "I iced it and two of the toes were strapped together, but I hit it everywhere and I'm glad to finish."
The erratic shot-making was evident on the front nine, when he posted four bogeys and three birdies to make the turn at five-under. He fell even further back with a bogey at 12.
However, the Englishman began to rebound at the course where he helped the European team to a victory at the 2010 Ryder Cup. He birdied the par-three 13th, and after four consecutive pars, he had a chance to sink an eagle putt at 18. Fisher settled for a birdie to get within a shot of Jaidee.
The Thai veteran was playing a group ahead of Fisher and rose up the leaderboard thanks to a productive run just before the turn. He made three birdies in the final four holes of his front nine to reach minus-six, and picked up another stroke at the 11th.
The 42-year-old bogeyed two of the next three holes to fall back, but birdied 15. He then used a long drive at the par-five 18th to set up a birdie chance and drained it.
"In Europe, it's very important for me to do well because the weather is going to be very difficult for me," said Jaidee, whose four tour titles all came in Asian events. "I've learned a lot of things, how to play with these conditions."
Jaidee's closing birdie vaulted him ahead of Luiten, who was nowhere close to the top of the leaderboard after a bogey at five put him at two-over.
But birdies at six, seven and nine got him under par, and he sank another at 10. He followed a birdie at 14 with an eagle at 15, and closed with his sixth and final birdie of the round. The Dutchman had made only six birdies through his first two rounds.
Tim Sluiter (68) is alone in fourth at five-under 208, while Carlos del Moral (66) and Marcel Siem (66) are tied for fifth at minus-four.
NOTES: Fisher owns four European Tour victories, while Luiten's only title came last year at the Johor Open...Luiten had missed the cut at his previous two events.