SYDNEY – Australian John Senden had an eagle and two birdies in a four-hole stretch on the back nine Saturday and finished with a 2-under 70 for a two-stroke lead after three rounds of the Australian Open.
Senden, the 2006 champion, had a three-round total of 7-under 209 in tough, windy conditions at The Lakes.
Englishman Justin Rose, who also shot 70, was in second place, followed by Australians Matthew Jones (69), Peter Senior (69) and Kieran Pratt (70) in a tie for third, three behind Senden.
"I had a sluggish start with the hand brake on a bit, but once I got through three or four holes I was feeling good again," said Senden, who finished runner-up to Greg Chalmers last year at The Lakes. "It was a day of trying to do the best I can and stay in position."
Rose had two late bogeys to keep him from tying for the lead going into the final round. Like most players he struggled with the gusty conditions and was apprehensive about a forecast repeat on Sunday.
"It was a difficult time out there," Rose said. "It's hard to even tap in from a few feet. I'm excited, as long as it does not get out of control and blow too hard, it is going to be a fun day to try and hit some shots. It will be my last round for the year and I'd like to go out on a high note."
Stuart Appleby (70), fellow Australian Cameron Percy (72) and American Kyle Stanley (70) are in a share for sixth, four shots behind. Appleby briefly took the lead before a back-nine stumble, but was pleased to be within several shots of the lead.
"I feel like I'm coming back," Appleby said. "My game is definitely on the uptake. Mentally, I've really struggled the past year or more, nearly two years, to believe in myself."
Adam Scott shot 71 to put him in a group of nine tied at 214, five strokes behind. Included in that group was second-round leader Marcus Fraser of Australia, who shot 76.
Chalmers was six strokes behind Senden after a 69 and was level with Geoff Ogilvy (70).
American Tom Watson, the 1984 Australian Open champion, had a 78 for the second time in three rounds and was among the last-placed golfers to make the cut.