Saturday, 09 November 2013
Victor Dubuisson   (Getty Images)
Victor Dubuisson (Getty Images)

Victor Dubuisson reigned supreme over the Race To Dubai contenders and World Number One Tiger Woods, continuing his serene progress to lead the Turkish Airlines Open by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism after round three.

The focus ahead of a hotly anticipated Saturday at the Montgomerie Maxx Royal centred on the battle between friendly rivals Ian Poulter and Henrik Stenson, with both aiming to be crowned Race to Dubai Number One next week, and the fascinating sub-plot of Woods being hot on their heels.

But it was Dubuisson, a model of consistency throughout the week, who starred as his bogey-free 63 gave him a score of 21 under par, equalling the low 54 hole total of the season, and five-shot lead over his nearest challenger Poulter .

Clearly relishing his battle with the big boys, the Frenchman showed positive intent throughout and was also able to get up and down on the couple of occasions he strayed.

The upshot was a brilliant display that interspersed birdies with pars after Dubuisson began with four successive gains.

He got hot, too, towards the end, a brilliant up and down for birdie from the trees on the par five 13th the highlight.

Following a gain at the next, he held a two shot lead over Stenson – and yet still showed remarkable confidence.

Faced with the short par-four 15th, he drove the green and two-putted for a third successive birdie.

A couple of pars thereafter reduced the fireworks, but the Frenchman ended in perfect fashion as a birdie came on the last.

Unsurprisingly, Dubuisson felt it today's was the best round of his career. "I shot ten under last year at St. Andrews for the course record, but it was the first round," he said. "But with the situation, it's the best day I did since I turned pro."

Dubuisson, yet to win on Tour, is aware of the names behind him and concedes it could be a stressful night's sleep.

He said: "I'm very tired now, so I think I will sleep easy tonight. But it will be very stressed I think.

"I'll try not to think about it because if I think about it, I will put too much pressure on myself.  But I know tomorrow Ian, Tiger and Henrik, they will shoot very low scores, so I have to keep the same strategy.  

"I know I have a five-shot lead, but with all these great players, tomorrow it will be a very tough day."

His nearest challenger Poulter struggled to get any momentum going for much of the round but, ultimately, he made just one mistake as well.

As a result, his birdies on each of the par fives and chip-in on the eighth left him on 16 under, primed to make a run at the title tomorrow.

Poulter, who conceded that winning the Race To Dubai would be his greatest individual achievement to date, has his sights high.

He said: "It (winning the Race) would be a highlight right now if I can pull it off.  So I need to go deep tomorrow.  

"I mean, I need to make as many birdies, certainly as I've made in any round in the last couple of weeks. 

"I need to go and throw eight‑ , nine-under par tomorrow, hopefully put a lot of pressure on Victor and see what happens."

Stenson, meanwhile, had a mixed bag of a round.

The Swede, aiming to win top honours on both sides of the Atlantic after his FedEx Cup triumph, leads the Race to Dubai and can emerge triumphant with victory here if Poulter and Justin Rose finish outside the top two.

He has given himself a great chance of doing the first part, even in a round that was highlighted by much annoyance for a large period.

Having birdied the opening two holes, the Swede was not able to get anything going as eight pars and a bogey came in the next nine.

But he got back into gear from the 13th, his gain there sparking a run of three in a row – only to produce a disappointing bogey on the 18th that left him alongside Raphaël Jacquelin, Alejandro Cañizares and Woods on 15 under.

Speaking about his position, Stenson said: "Dubuisson seems to be playing really well; he's kind of pulled away.

"But then it's a tight race for second, five, six guys tied on second position at the moment. There is still some hope there for tomorrow. I'll try to finish strong tomorrow and carry on to next week."

Speaking about his ongoing wrist injury, he added: "It desperately needs rest and recovery time and I don't have that at the moment, so I'm just trying to scrape by and it's going to be limited preparations for next week."

Jacquelin was aided by a stunning 62 – the week’s best score and a new course record – that featured three runs of four successive birdies.

Having begun with four in a row, he double-bogeyed the fifth before starting further streaks at eight and 15, in the process equalling a record on The European Tour for the most birdies in a round with 12.

Woods, the biggest challenger for much of the day, uncharacteristically put together a disjointed 18.

He had started by picking up three shots on the opening 11 holes to threaten the runaway leader.

But a disappointing finish, featuring bogeys on 12, 15 and 16, meant Woods was slipping adrift heading into the 18th.

However, having hit his tee shot way left, he made the most of it not going out of bounds by holing a stunning putt for birdie to stay right in the mix.

Cañizares, meanwhile, kept himself right in contention with a 66 that followed scores of 67 and 68 over the first two days.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1DUBUISSON, VictorFRA18-24
2DONALDSON, JamieWAL18-22
T3ROSE, JustinENG18-20
T3WOODS, TigerUSA18-20
T5POULTER, IanENG18-19
T5JACQUELIN, RaphaëlFRA18-19

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