(Reuters) - Local favourite Martin Kaymer was surprised to find himself in a six-way tie for the lead after the third round at the BMW International Open in Germany on Saturday.
Kaymer hit a sublime bunker shot from a plugged lie at the par-five 13th hole to resurrect a day that had been going south with three mid-round bogeys on the Gut Laerchenhof course in Pulheim.
He converted the six-foot birdie putt and, supported by a large gallery, picked up two late birdies for a one-under-par 71.
After strong winds the first two days, conditions moderated on Saturday and Kaymer expected some really low scores.
But none eventuated, with nobody shooting better than 67.
“Was very scorable today. I thought there would be some 64s and 65s because if you hit the fairways you had plenty of chances,” Kaymer told Sky Sports. “That wasn’t the case, so good for me.
“I hung in there quite well. In the middle the round almost got away from me.”
Joining Kaymer at five-under 211 were Dane Lucas Bjerregaard (67), Englishmen Chris Paisley (68) and Aaron Rai (71), German Maximilian Kiefer (71) and Australian Scott Hend (73).
Ten others were within two strokes, including Argentine Andres Romero (67), two behind on a jam-packed leaderboard.
Kaymer, who lives in nearby Dusseldorf, is still seeking consistency as he plays his way back after a wrist injury that kept him out for a month early this year.
“It’s nice to be in contention, especially for me, because it has been a while but last few weeks I’ve played really well,” said the two-times major champion.
“On top of that, winning in your own country speaks for itself.
“I was just driving the ball very poorly today. I didn’t hit many fairways. It was nice a few putts dropped. It was a tough battle.
“To be up there and have a chance tomorrow, that was the main thing and I kept it well together.”
Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Andrew Bolton