Starting on the 10th tee, Docking opened with two straight birdies, though bogeys at 15 and 18 plus a double bogey at the 17th quickly put the brakes on his momentum.
Docking managed to rally, finding birdie at the 3rd followed by back-to-back eagles on the 5th and 6th holes, to move back into a position that he is very familiar with at Hamilton Island.
"I played nicely today and it was really only four holes where I leaked all of my shots," said Docking.
"You need to drive it well around here to give yourself a chance and I hit two great drives to set up eagles on both par five's on the front nine"
Not as familiar with the layout as Docking, Darren Garrett was happy with his strong start given it is the West Australian's first trip to Hamilton Island.
"This place is amazing. The wind got up a little out there today but I was quite pleased with the way I was able to manage my way around," said Garrett.
"I got really lucky on the 17th hole today when my ball, which was headed towards the left trees, hit a rules official cart finishing on the edge of the fairway and keeping what could have been a big number to a bogey."
One shot behind the leaders is Concord Golf Club's Mark Alison who had an up and down day carding four bogeys, four birdies and an eagle to finish at 2-under the card.
South Australia's Chris Duke sits one shot further back, while Queenslanders Brad Burns and Craig Goodall round out the top-5 on even par.
In the Hamilton Island Amateur Golf Championship Pierre Blais, Patrick Bowe and Danny Barrow share the lead heading into the final round after each carded 37 stableford points. It will be a tight battle in the final round with 17 players within four shots of the lead.
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What's on this week / 25th - 31st January 2017
Discover what's on in the world of golf and which Aussies are in action this week