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Fisher Running Away with Tshwane Open


England's Ross Fisher followed up his opening scores of 66 and 65 with a 67 to vault into a five-stroke lead in the Tshwane Open. The event is taking place at the Ernie Els-designed, 7,964-yard - the European Tour's longest course - Copperleaf Golf and Country Estate in Centurion, South Africa.

After carding two bogeys and four birdies on the front nine, the 33-year-old tacked on four more birdies to reach 18-under 198, five ahead of Northern Ireland's Michael Hoey (69) and six in front of 18-hole leader Simon Dyson of England (71) and Spain's Carlos del Moral (71).

Fisher is justifiably pleased with his performance so far. "I feel like I'm playing as good as I ever have, probably similar to when I was contending in majors and getting myself into the Ryder Cup team," said the four time-winner in Europe and a member of the Continent's victorious 2010 squad.

"If I were to win here it would be a massive confidence boost and a step in the right direction. My primary goal is to get back in the top 50 [of the world rankings]. I've been there before and I feel like I belong there.

"I got to 17 in the world because of my major performances, but like a few other guys I had a big comedown after the Ryder Cup having achieved the second pinnacle of golf outside of winning a major and so early in my career. Maybe I suffered a bit from Ryder 'Cupitis,' as I called it.

"You see guys like Henrik Stenson who got to the top of the game, disappeared, came back, disappeared, and now he's back where he belongs. You see guys like that come through adversity, drift off and come back. Lee Westwood is another one - I wouldn't say my slump was anywhere near as drastic as theirs, but I've missed being in the top 50 and playing in the majors and that's where I want to be. Hopefully this is a step in the right direction for me."

Fisher's closest pursuers believe they must do something spectacular, with perhaps some help from the leader, in order to catch him. "He will be hard to beat, but I'll just keep doing my best," Hoey said.

Fisher plans to keep his pedal to the metal in Sunday's final round. "I do expect guys behind me to go out there and shoot good scores, so if I want to contend and try to win then I need to shoot something in the 60s. I need to keep doing what I've done for the last few days and keep playing aggressive golf," he added.

The low round of the day - a 7-under 65 - was posted by Robert Rock, which moved the Englishman into a tie for 12th at 206.

For all the scores, visit http://www.europeantour.com/europeantour/season=2014/tournamentid=2014015/leaderboard/index.html.