Abu Dhabi: Justin Rose, the world number five, is on course to win the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship on his debut at the event, after taking a two-shot lead into the final day on Sunday.
The South Africa-born Englishman fired a four-under-par 68 for a three-round total of 204, two shots ahead of the Welshman Jamie Donaldson and the Dane Thorbjorn Olesen.
Rose was delighted with his brilliant form at the event, which he needs to maintain if he wants to challenge the world numbers one and two, Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods, on a consistent basis.
“Anyone that wins this week, they have beaten the No 1 and 2 player in the world. That gives this tournament absolute huge amounts of credibility. If you can say you’ve beaten the best players, that’s exactly what you need to do to be the best,” said Rose
After India’s Shiv Shankar Prasad Chowrasia and Australia’s Andrew Dodt set the course ablaze with rounds of seven-under-par 65 in the morning, Rose saw his on-shot lead disappear when he bogeyed his opening hole.
But, with his mother watching him play, the world number five went on to show his class with five birdies in the last six holes of his front nine and another on the 12th.
Two bogeys at the 13th and 17th blotted his good round somewhat, although he finished off with a birdie.
With Rose in such ominous form, the task to overhaul him is a considerable one for Donaldson and Olesen and the chasing pack behind them.
Donaldson, one of whose shots got stuck in a palm tree on the eight hole, said he was happy with his position.
“I feel pretty good. I played some great recovery shots out there today. Sadly I didn’t play as well as yesterday, but scored better, so I’m happy with the position,” he said, adding: “You’ve just got to take every hole as it comes out here and just try to hit some fairways. The rough is very penal. You’ve got to try to put the ball in play off the tee.” Meanwhile, Olesen, who will partner Donaldson in Sunday’s final round, said he would adopt an aggressive approach. “I’m going to try to be aggressive tomorrow. I thought I was pretty aggressive today, but I didn’t hole the putts I needed to. But I played well, and hopefully I can make a few more putts tomorrow,” said the Dane.
Meanwhile, fourth-place Thai Thongchai Jaidee, who fired a sparkling 66 to put himself in contention a shot behind Donaldson and Olesen, says he wants to take a very simple approach in the final round.
“I think I will play my own game for tomorrow. I will try my best tomorrow, have a good sleep tonight and then come back and work again tomorrow, that’s my plan,” Jaidee said.