It looked like early trouble for Justin Rose when he three putted from 15 feet on the opening hole at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship on Saturday afternoon, but the world’s number five golfer brushed the bogey off, and took command of the tournament. Rose went on a birdie barrage, and made the turn at 32. He closed out his round with a four under par 68, and a two shot lead going into the final round on Sunday. With no Rory McIlroy or Tiger Woods around to worry about, Rose has taken control of this tournament, and will be the man to beat in the final round.
It’s not the match-up Nike was hoping for, but Jamie Donaldson, and Thorbjorn Olesen, who both carry Nike bags are two strokes back, and in a tie for second place. Donaldson, who turned pro in 2000, and has only one win on the European Tour, shot a three under par 69 in the third round for a three day total at 10 under par. The 37 year old from Wales is currently 47th in world ranking, and 28th for the Race To Dubai. Olesen shot a bogey free three under par 69.
Tongchai Jaidee, from Thailand came back after being somewhat quiet for the first two rounds, and shot a six under 66 on Saturday to take command of fourth place at nine under par. Jaidee got his round off to a great start with birdies at the first two holes, and ended with birdies on 17 and 18. He had one bogey at 16. Jaidee is currently the best golfer from the Asian Tour playing on any tour. He is 63rd in the World Rankings, but is fifth in Race To Dubai points. He finished the 2012 season with a T7 at the DP World Championship, Dubai, and a third place finish last week at the Volvo Championships.
Gonzalo Fernandez-Costano who had played fairly well in the opening rounds, and was in the final group on Saturday with the leader, had trouble getting to the house. He played the back nine from some of the same places Tiger Woods, and Rory McIlroy played from on Friday. He carded a one under par 71, and remains in a tie for fifth place four strokes off the pace.
Three time Abu Dhabi Champion, Martin Kaymer had another ho-hum day, shooting a two under 70 to stay six strokes back. He would need a miracle, and a Justin Rose collapse to get his fourth Falcon Trophy. Kaymer made the turn at one over 37, and played the back nine at three under. A birdie at 18 gives him some hope, but I think it’s too little too late.
American, Jason Dufner ended his moving day the same way he started. Dufner shot even par on Saturday, and is too far back now for any realistic chance to win. He is at four under par, eight strokes back, and tied for 19th place. Maybe Dufner can shake the jet lag, and things will get better next week at Qatar for the Auburn grad.
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