England’s Justin Rose and Denmark’s Lucas Bjerregaard shared the third round lead after an enthralling day which saw the duo returned with matching three-day total of 15-under-par 195 at the UBS Hong Kong Open on Saturday.
India’s Anirban Lahiri lurked closely in third place after a sparking back-nine saw the Asian Tour Order of Merit leader surged up the leaderboard with a five-under-par 65 at the Hong Kong Golf Club.
Compatriot Jeev Milkha Singh, who will captain Team Asia in the upcoming EurAsia Cup in January next year, also posted a 65 to share fourth place with England’s Matthew Fitzpatrick at the US$2 million event which is sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour.
Overnight leader Rose, who held a one shot lead over Bjerregaard coming into the weekend, marked his card with two eagles and two birdies for a commanding 64 which edged him closer to his first UBS Hong Kong Open title.
After opening with two straight pars, Rose found the green with his second shot on the third hole. The Major winner made it look all too easy when he drained home a monstrous eagle putt to get to 11-under.
Rose then birdied 10 and showed his masterclass once again on 13 by nailing another eagle putt before following that up with another birdie on 14.
“What impressed me today was the couple of par saves that I had to make and rolled in. Then that eagle on the third hole kind of got me up and running. There’s always going to be a low score on this golf course and someone in contention is going to have to go low.
“All I’ve done all week is play my game, see my shots, focus and commit to them. So from my point of view, it’s more of the same. I just have to come out, have a good process, execute it and hopefully the numbers will follow,” said Rose.
Bjerregaard also stamped his authority by coming out strongly with three birdies for an outward 31.
The Dane seemed to be running away with the lead when he stormed ahead with five birdies in seven holes after the turn but was stopped in his tracks with a bogey on the last.
“It’s obviously not fun to finish off any round with a bogey, especially today. I hit a bad tee shot on 18 there which was pretty much my only bad shot of the day. So not the way I wanted to finish, but still, I’m very happy with the round today,” said Bjerregaard.
Meanwhile Lahiri, who had a quiet day with a front-nine 34, burst into life by racing home with five birdies in his inward-nine to move himself into contention for his eighth Asian Tour title.
“I was not very focused on the front nine. But I calmed down a little bit and by the eighth, ninth hole, I started hitting it a little more solid. It was good to get birdies on 10 and 11 as they got me into the right zone mentally. I was just focusing on giving myself opportunities, and it was good.
“You want to get as close as possible, because if it gets into a match-play position, then they can play totally differently and separate themselves from the field. But hopefully I can play some good golf, play 18 holes tomorrow like I did on the back nine and maybe have a sniff,” said Lahiri.
Singh also turned on the afterburners in his back-nine after struggling with an outward 35.
The Asian Tour honorary member fired three successive birdies from 10 before going on to pick up three more birdies in his last four holes.
“Honestly it was a shaky start but got my bearings right after I made two birdies. But what got me going was on the 10th hole, I got very lucky. It jumped over the water and stayed up. I chipped it to about two feet and birdied it.
“I’m in better shape and I’m working a lot on my mental side. I think everything should fall in place and I’m ready to see what comes my way,” said Singh.
Leading Scores after round 3 of the Hong Kong Open Championship 2015 being played at the par 70, 6710 Yards Hong Kong GC course (am – denotes amateur):
195 – Lucas BJERREGAARD (DEN) 66-66-63, Justin ROSE (ENG) 65-66-64.
199 – Anirban LAHIRI (IND) 67-67-65.
200 – Jeev Milkha SINGH (IND) 65-70-65, Matthew FITZPATRICK (ENG) 67-67-66.
201 – Jason SCRIVENER (AUS) 68-68-65, Y.E. YANG (KOR) 68-66-67, Matt FORD (ENG) 69-65-67.
202 – Thongchai JAIDEE (THA) 71-67-64, Patrick REED (USA) 68-69-65, Gaganjeet BHULLAR (IND) 69-66-67, Nathan HOLMAN (AUS) 68-66-68.
203 – LIN Wen-tang (TPE) 67-68-68, Oliver FISHER (ENG) 66-69-68.
204 – Siddikur RAHMAN (BAN) 67-71-66, Rahil GANGJEE (IND) 66-70-68, Sam BRAZEL (AUS) 69-67-68, LU Wei-chih (TPE) 64-69-71.
205 – Soomin LEE (KOR) 70-69-66, C.T. PAN (TPE) 65-73-67, Simon YATES (SCO) 69-68-68, Jason KNUTZON (USA) 68-68-69.
206 – CHAN Shih-chang (TPE) 71-69-66, Carlos PIGEM (ESP) 69-71-66, Peter UIHLEIN (USA) 70-70-66, Ben EVANS (ENG) 69-71-66, Estanislao GOYA (ARG) 73-66-67, Peter HANSON (SWE) 69-70-67, Chapchai NIRAT (THA) 67-72-67, Angelo QUE (PHI) 72-67-67, Marcus FRASER (AUS) 72-66-68, Masahiro KAWAMURA (JPN) 68-69-69, Graeme McDOWELL (NIR) 66-69-71, Ian POULTER (ENG) 67-66-73.