RICHARD Kan produced a lion-hearted performance yesterday to keep Hongkong from falling completely out of contention for the Alfred Dunhill World Cup of golf in Scotland in October. Hongkong, needing to finish in the top eight of the World qualifier in Taipei, are six strokes off their target after the third round - one stroke worse off than they were after the second round. With one round remaining, pace-setting South Africa, for whom Ernie Els and Retief Goosen both shot 68s yesterday, appear certain to join the eight seeded nations in Scotland. Sweden, Mexico, hosts Taiwan and Argentina are also well on their way. Thailand and New Zealand are level sixth on even-par 432, followed by Canada, Paraguay and Wales on 433. Then come the Netherlands (434), the Philippines (435), Malaysia (436) and Switzerland and Hongkong (439). If Hongkong still make it, they will owe a big debt to the steely resolve and a cool temperament of Kan, who fired a one-under-par 71 at the Sunrise Golf Club yesterday - the first sub-par round of the tournament by a Hongkong player. With Dominique Boulet contributing a 74, Hongkong returned a third-round aggregate of 145. Only the best two daily scores count, so captain Yau Sui-ming's 75 was discarded. With 33-year-old Clearwater Bay assistant professional Kan in ebullient mood, the Hongkong trio believe the door is still open. ''We're going to need a combined score of about 140 in the final round and with Richard in such good form that's quite possible,'' said Yau. Hongkong began the third day equal 15th, knowing they could not afford to lose any more ground on the teams ahead. And Kan, winner of the 1992 Hongkong PGA Order of Merit, came out fighting. He reached the turn in even-par 36 with a birdie-two at the short fourth being offset by a bogey-five at the eighth. He went back into red figures with a birdie at the 536-yard 13th where he came within a couple of inches of holing his greenside bunker shot for an eagle-three. Kan went to two-under at the 187-yard 16th but gave the shot back at the par-four 17th where he pushed his approach and then over-hit his chip. It was the first time in 11 rounds in the qualifier that Kan had broken par. ''I played well, but it could have been better,'' said Kan, who hit 15 greens in regulation and saw several birdie attempts slide by the hole. Boulet, whose score had been discounted on the first two days, again looked unlikely to contribute after wildly driving out-of-bounds on his way to a double-bogey at the third and three-putting for a bogey at the short fourth. However, he battled on to make three birdies and completed the final 14 holes in one-under.