Brendan Jones plays an approach shot during round three of the Australian Open. Photo: Mark Kolbe
A brutal and ''diabolical'' wind almost knocked Brendan Jones out of Australian Open contention but the Canberra golfer insists ''12 rounds with Muhammad Ali'' haven't extinguished his hopes of lifting the Stonehaven Cup on Sunday.
Jones was left ruing missed opportunities as he tumbled from second to a tie for ninth in the third round of one of Australia's premier tournaments.
It was a roller-coaster round, which included seven bogeys, two birdies and an eagle.
But while Jones has slipped to five shots behind leader John Senden, he is confident he can make a last-round surge to give himself a chance of victory.
Jones shot three-over-par and is two under for the tournament.
''I feel like I've gone 12 rounds with Muhammad Ali, it was hard work out there,'' Jones said.
''It was very, very hard out there at the end of the day. It would have been a good day to be getting in the clubhouse before the real windy stuff hit.
''I just felt like every time I hit a good shot I got screwed by the wind … I don't feel like I've blown it.
''A lot of players had tough days, I'd just love to be in contention tomorrow afternoon.''
Jones spends his year on the Japan Tour but he craves a major victory in Australia and believes he still has a chance.
Jones will start the last round level with fellow Canberran Matt Millar, who found some form to shoot three-under and also move within striking distance.
Missed opportunities in the third round frustrated Jones. He had a chance to get off to a perfect start, but his short birdie putt slipped past the hole.
He had another birdie putt on the second but it too failed to find the bottom of the hole.
That's when the tough trot set in, he bogeyed the fourth, seventh and ninth holes.
Jones birdied the 11th before going bogey, eagle and birdie. That run was followed by three bogeys in his last four holes.
''It's all about momentum and I basically couldn't buy a putt the whole day … the wind was diabolical,'' Jones said.
''They say the wind is going to swing around and come from the opposite direction [on Sunday] so that will be hard work again.
''I feel like I'm playing well, I just need to hole a few putts. If I do that early on, who knows what can happen?
''If I get that start … I'm five shots back, but there's an outside chance I could win and it's all about the start.''
Millar believes he also has a chance to record an unlikely victory after finally regaining some confidence and will tee off with Australian star Adam Scott in the final round.
The 36-year-old arrived back in Australia last week shattered after missing his chance to qualify for the Japan Tour.
He was quiet in the opening two rounds but exploded with four birdies in the first four holes on Saturday.
At the start of the tournament Millar was aiming for a top 10 spot and he is confident he can achieve his target.
''I didn't fire the first couple of rounds and I put myself a long way behind, so your goals of winning get reduced,'' Millar said.
''I aimed to shoot two rounds in the 60s on the weekend. That was the goal and I've ticked one off, so there's one more to go.
''It's hard to say you'll win it, but you just never know. I just go out and do what I do … I don't mind when it's windy and you miss greens and you have to get up and down because that's what I do best.''
Canberra players at the Australian Open: Brendan Jones (-2) teeing off with Nick Cullen at 11.03am; Matt Millar (-2) teeing off with Adam Scott at 11.36am.