Last year he had a two shot lead going into the final round at Doha Golf Club but eventually finished in second place. This year Henrik Stenson’s advantage going into the final round of The Commercial Bank Qatar Masters might be only one, but the Swede remained doubly determined to put right the wrongs of twelve months ago.
The 29 year old led by a shot at the start of the day and could have been further ahead but for a disappointing finish. He missed a makeable birdie putt at the 16th from a couple of feet and then proceeded to bogey the par five 18th after pushing his three iron second shot, pitching and three putting.
It left Stenson with a third round 71 and an 11 under par total of 205, one shot clear of England’s Paul Broadhurst, whose 67 was the best round of the day in the testing winds, and his fellow Swede Niclas Fasth on ten under par 206, with England’s Richard Finch and Ricardo Gonzalez of Argentina a further shot adrift on nine under par 207.
“It was tough out there. I fought pretty hard and did it pretty well. Just disappointed over the last couple of holes, especially on 18 dropping a shot there,” he said. “Just disappointed at the moment but tomorrow is a new day. We still have one shot lead and it's not worse that what it was this morning. I still have a chance.
“You just have to play it one shot at a time and one hole at a time. It's tough for everybody and I guess we saw a few good scores out there today but obviously it was a tough day. But under par is never bad.”
Most impressive move of the day was made by Broadhurst who only had one bogey at the short 17th where his nine iron tee shot found a greenside bunker and he failed to get up and down, but apart from that his play was exemplary with six birdies peppering his card.
Particularly pleasant was the birdie four at the 18th from 15 feet which helped erase the memory of the dropped shot at the previous hole and gave the 40 year old an ideal platform to go on and challenge for his sixth European Tour International Schedule title.
“It was a tough day,” he said. “I hit some good shots and some bad shots but overall it went well. I said before I went out that I'd take two under because the wind was in the opposite direction and it made some of the par threes much harder today. The third, the eighth and the 13th were playing very long and if you make threes there you get out of there. But overall, with 67 you've got to be happy.”
Alongside Broadhurst, Fasth also admitted to be pleased to be in a prominent position in the tournament but like his fellow countryman Stenson, he revealed his position could have been a lot better.
“For three straight days I have played the best golf of my life but just haven’t been able to score which has been kind of funny, this is not easy here but when you play great everything seems easy, but I can’t believe that the putts haven’t dropped,” he said.
“I’ve missed a lot of short putts including inside one foot for par at the tenth, that was unbelievable. But I am playing the best golf of my life, my driving is sorted, I did a lot of work on that over the winter and I have a new driver which is working really well. It really, really feels good and I just need to start holing my short putts and I will be fine.”
Last year, although Stenson led by two shots, it was to Ernie Els he eventually lost the title, the South African starting the final round then five shots behind. This year Els is six back after battling to a 69 for a five under par total of 211, a round which included birdies at the 16th and 18th, and a share of 12th place.
Although the three time Major Champion still represented a threat to the 11 players in front of him, the South African himself tried his best to play down his chances.
“Well he (Stenson) looks too good now, he likes the course and he looks really solid so it will be half a miracle if I have a chance tomorrow,” he said. “But I will just try and shoot as low as I can and we will see where it goes. I am close to doing something really good. Today was close to doing something in the middle 60s so I am looking forward to tomorrow.”