Dubai: He has led the tournament almost from his first hole at the Golf in Dubai Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates, but Englishman Andy Sullivan as seen his lead shaved down to two strokes as compatriots Matt Wallace and Ross Fisher loom.
Despite smashing records across the course at the inaugural Golf in Dubai competition, Sullivan — who is on a whopping 21-under-par through 54 holes — is by no means a shoo-in for the title ahead of next week’s European Tour finale DP World Tour Championship on the neighbouring Earth Course.
Just as on the first two days, it was a dominating day from the men from England as Sullivan, Wallace and Fisher occupy the top three spots.
Sullivan set a course record and a personal-best 61 on Day 1 but had to settle for a four-under 68 on Friday to hold on to his slender lead.
Wallace fired a 67 to cling onto the coattails of Sullivan, while Fisher also carded a 68 to sit on 18-under.
The scoring has been so low that Fisher is only third, despite having only one bogey on his card through three rounds.
Italy’s Renato Paratore sits tied-fifth alongside Frenchman Antoine Rozner on 17-under.
A relieved Sullivan seems to just be content to still be in the driving seat going into Saturday’s final 18 holes.
“I’m happy with four under,” he said. “I didn’t think I played brilliant golf. Started off really nicely front nine, played really solid. Ten through to 14 I didn’t swing it that great, didn’t give myself that many chances. Found some good swing coming in, which was really good, dug deep there and managed to get a few birdies coming home. Four under is a pretty fair reflection on how I played.
There’s a lot of golf to be played, a lot of birdies to be made tomorrow. Just got to go out there and play golf. If I play as good as I did the first two days I’ll be a confident man.”
Wallace was delighted to be in contention at the inaugural event. “It was all right, didn’t swing it as good today,” he said. “I felt a bit nervous, if I’m honest. Not at the start, but then a few tee shots didn’t feel as comfortable, didn’t strike it as well. Had to tell myself to let it go and struck it better coming in. Frustrating to miss an easy putt on the last that would have me on Andy’s shoulder. I’m not thinking about winning, if I’m honest. I’m two behind a Ryder Cup player, someone who is playing really well. I’m going to have to go really low tomorrow.”
-21 Andy Sullivan (England) 61 66 68
-19 Matt Wallace (England) 63 67 67
-18 Ross Fisher (England) 63 67 68
Renato Paratore (Italy) 68 65 65
-17 Francesco Laporta (Italy) 65 69 65
Antoine Rozner (France) 63 69 67
-16 Niklas Lemke (Sweden) 66 68 66
Oscar Lengden (Sweden) 64 69 67
Mike Lorenzo-Vera (France) 69 66 65
Robert MacIntyre (Scotland) 66 68 66
Max Schmitt (Germany) 68 64 68