The 1999 Order of Merit Champion sits at 12-under 204 after 54 holes, one shot in front of American Jason Schultz. Canadians Stuart Anderson and Darren Griff are tied for third at 10-under 206, while Eddie Maunder is three strokes back.
Trailing Iain Steel by one shot as play began Saturday, Duke carded a 3-under 33 on the front nine to build a four-shot cushion on Steel and Anderson at the turn. A pair of bogeys by Duke on the back nine allowed Schultz to get within one.
I didnt putt well on the back today, and it cost me a few shots, said Duke. I could be three or four shots ahead, but thats the way it goes. There are a lot of good players right behind me that could give me a go tomorrow.
On Sunday, Duke will go in search of his third career tour triumph. The 33-year-old won both the Shell Payless Open and Bayer Championship in 1999, and the $122,188 he earned that season is second only to the $129,158 Namibias Trevor Dodds won in 1996.
Earlier this year at the Scottsdale Swing at Eagle Mountain, Duke led with just three holes left before taking a disastrous 9 on the par-4 16th hole, eventually setting for a fifth-place tie. At the TELUS Quebec Open last summer, Paul Devenport snaked home an 84-foot eagle putt on the final hole before defeating Duke in a playoff.
I figure if I can keep leading going into the final round, Ill win one sooner or later. Ill go out there tomorrow, be patient and take what the golf course gives me.
Anderson, 24, was also in contention at Eagle Mountain, heading into the weekend tied for seventh spot before shooting 74-77 over the final two rounds to wind up 60th.
That was a learning experience for me (in Scottsdale), and I think it taught me a lesson, admitted Anderson. My goal was to stay in contention today, and I was able to do that. I stuck to my game plan, and it seemed to work.
Griff, who teamed with good friend Drew Symons to win the Charlevoix Cup in Quebec summer, missed a 15-foot par putt on the final hole that would have kept him at 11-under.
I just didnt putt well today, and couldnt give myself birdie opportunities on the easy holes, he said. Ive hit the ball well and hopefully I can get the putts to drop Sunday.
Chad Belbin of Kamloops, BC took the term moving day to the extreme Saturday, firing a 7-under 65 to vault from 40th spot to a tie for 6th at 8-under.
Full-field scores from the Greater Vancouver Classic