Golf: Kiwi golfer Ryan Fox slides in third round of star-studded Saudi International but still in contention

New Zealand golfer Ryan Fox has had a mixed third round at the star-studded Suadi International but remains in contention. 

The Kiwi mixed three birdies with four bogies to card a one-over 71 to have him at nine-under four shots off the lead in a share of seventh with six other players.

The lead is held by world No.1 Dustin Johnson, who fired himself up the leaderboard with a stellar four-under 66 that included six birdies and his only blemish coming on the par-four 13th where he recorded a double bogey. 

Johnson birdied the last two holes to take a two-shot lead into the final round as he looks to win the tournament for the second time, after the inaugural edition in 2019.

Frenchmen Victor Perez is Johnson's nearest rival at 11-under with a group of four players - Tony Finau, Tyrrell Hatton, Andy Sullivan and Soren Kjeldsen - all at 10-under, three shots back. 

The 34-year-old Kiwi started the day with a share of the lead but inconsistency plagued him, as he chases his second European Tour title.

"The scoring wasn't there today but the rest of game felt good and I didn't feel out of my depth playing with Dustin Johnson," Fox tells Newshub. "It's all boding well for tomorrow, hopefully I can put it all together and hold some putts and I can put on a decent score.

"If you had given this to me at the start of the week I would've taken it but it would've been nice to be a couple of shots closer as I feel I played well enough to shoot one or two under but I still have a chance and if I shot a low number you never know."

"Dustin Johnson is number one for a reason but if I play well enough I can give him a run for his money.'

As Newshub reported on Saturday, Fox was worried about getting home to New Zealand following the tournament with a late tee off putting him in jeopardy of missing his flight to Dubai.

This would've mean he would miss his international flight back to New Zealand and his spot in managed Islotation. If that occured, he would've been stuck out of the country until at least May when the next spots come avaliable in MIQ.  

But as Fox tells Newshub everything has all worked out and he can put all his attention on picking up his 11th professional victory.

"It has worked out nicely for me as the European Tour has put on a charter flight for me back to Dubai," he says. "Thankfully the rumours of this charter flight have come true and has made everything a lot easier.

"Luckily there are quiet a few players needing to get to Dubai on Sunday night so it was in the European Tour's best interest to put this flight on."

Fox will tee off in his final round in the fifth to last group that includes Englishmen Justin Rose at 8:10pm on Sunday (NZ time).