Michael Campbell still smiling in Doha

Last updated 05:00 27/01/2013

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Michael Campbell was within touching distance of a win on the European Tour for the first time in almost eight years before his final round overnight.

The 43-year-old carded his third successive four-under-par 68 at the Doha Golf Club to get to a 12-under total in a three-way share of second place at the Qatar Masters.

Campbell began the third round three shots back from Englishman Chris Wood, who made the most of moving day with an eight-under 64.

Campbell, the 2005 US Open champion, again made a fast start yesterday as he made three birdies on the front nine to make the turn in three-under 33. He added further birdies on the 10th and 13th as he kept pace with the birdie blitz from Wood before dropping a shot at the 15th.

The eight-time winner on the European Tour has been on a steady comeback since the middle of the 2012 season, recording a third placing in Portugal and a tie for eighth in Hong Kong.

He is currently in a share of 59th place in the early stages of the Race to Dubai standings and was looking for his first victory since the World Matchplay Championship at Wentworth in 2005.

It is a remarkable comeback from Campbell who, during his career slump, fell outside the top 900 on the official world rankings after injury problems and a loss of form.

He is playing with renewed belief after the two top-10 finishes in 2012.

"Six months ago, I was desperate," he said. "I think I made two cuts in about two years, 18 months or something, and now I have a chance of winning a couple times last year and maybe tomorrow.

"We are just going back to what is working and what worked before, and going back with my coach Jonathan Yarwood six months ago definitely helped.

"That's really one thing I've been working the last six months is just smile after each round of golf, whether it's a good one or a bad one, and it's working so far. It's really simple stuff."

Campbell is outclassing a field that includes a total of 80 European Tour winners but eyes further improvement and a ninth win in Europe.

"Once again, four-under after 10 holes and just couldn't hole a putt on the last eight holes," he added. "I holed a chip, but not a putt.

"It's been frustrating, but it's just one of those things where at this time last year, I was packing my bags and going home, so I can't complain about that.

"It's just nice to be out here and having some fun at the same time and maybe have a chance of winning.

"When a title is definitely reachable, expectations are obviously quite high and I want to do well, and if I don't, no big deal, you've got next week. All I can do is just control my game, control my destiny and see what happens."

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Meanwhile, Lydia Ko and Michael Hendry are also in contention for big wins.

Hendry leads the Heritage Classic in Victoria, Australia, on 14-under par going into the final round following a third-round course record 64.

Hendry leads by one shot from Australian David Bransdon.

Ko enters the final round of her New South Wales Women's Open defence one shot off the lead.

Swedish pro Caroline Hedwall leads with Australian amateur Minjee Lee on nine-under.

- Sunday Star Times

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