Saturday might traditionally be ‘Moving Day’ in golfing parlance, but it was not much in evidence in Fanling as Robert Karlsson maintained his four shot advantage going into the final round of the UBS Hong Kong Open.
The towering Swede – a seven time winner on The European Tour International Schedule – started the day four clear of his nearest challenger and playing partner Miguel Angel Jiménez and ended the day in precisely the same position after both players carded four under par 66s at the Hong Kong Golf Club.
It moved Karlsson to 16 under par 194 and Jiménez to 12 under par 198 and the two will share the final group again on Sunday as no other player from the chasing pack managed to break clear and mount a serious challenge.
Leading the pursuit one shot behind Jiménez are four players on 11 under par 199 – Marcus Fraser of Australia (64), KJ Choi of Korea (65), Peter Hanson who will partner Karlsson in next week’s Omega Mission Hills World Cup (65) and India’s Shiv Kapur (65).
But the man they, and Jiménez, will have to catch is Karlsson who dropped his first, and only shot to date of the tournament at the ninth hole where he three putted from 90 feet, but apart from that, the 38 year old Swede was in as imperious form as he had been during his two opening 64s.
“I am very happy with the way I played today and that is the most important thing,” he said “Both me and Miguel had a fantastic start and if you play well the first few holes, you get into the rhythm of the round and we made the most of it.
“You’d take a four shot lead on any course but this is definitely a tricky course to try and pick up a lot of shots on. But at the same time there are low scores out there and so for me tomorrow it is all about focusing on putting another low score together. If someone beats me then I can’t do anything about that but my focus is on another good solid round tomorrow.
“I am not really looking at where I am (in the tournament), I am looking at my game and that is it. It doesn’t matter where other people are, if I play my game like this over a whole year I would probably have pretty good results.
“If I start looking at leaderboards or getting into a match play situation with other players it would be totally shifting focus which would not be a good idea. You can’t play match play against 65 other guys anyway. That is a big trap to fall into with a lead like this. I had it a couple of times last year and once I did well and once not so well so it is really just about my 18 holes tomorrow.”
Like the leader, second placed Jimenez started well and dropped a shot at the ninth but the Spaniard battled back on the inward half and a birdie at the 13th, followed by one at the 16th, ensured he would be partnering Karlsson again on Sunday.
“We both played well today especially on the front nine,” he said. “I hope to take advantage of my chances earlier on tomorrow and put some pressure on him. But Robert is playing fantastic. He is playing solid in every part of his game. I want to put pressure on him with some birdies tomorrow.”
|1||JIMÉNEZ, Miguel Angel||ESP||18||-15|
|T2||CHOI, K J||KOR||18||-14|