Saturday, 23 January 2016
Andy Sullivan and Rory McIlroy  (Getty Images)
Andy Sullivan and Rory McIlroy (Getty Images)

A dramatic third day at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship saw five players take a share of the lead with 21 within three shots of the summit at Abu Dhabi Golf Club.

Rickie Fowler, Branden Grace, Joost Luiten, Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter will all have to return to complete their third rounds on Sunday after moving ahead on another fog-interrupted day, and here is what some of the leading lights had to say as the sun set over the desert.


Rory McIlroy

The World Number Three had finished his second round birdie-eagle in the morning and was pleased with the opening nine holes of his third round as he recorded three birdies and a bogey.

"It was a solid enough nine," he said. "I obviously played them a bit better than I played them yesterday. I thought if it could have been maybe one better – had a three-putt on five - but I thought it was a solid nine holes, and I did what I needed to do. Your rhythm is a bit off (with the delays), stop and start.

"But I felt like I played well those nine holes and made a couple of nice putts, gave myself a few more chances and I'm in a decent position going into tomorrow.

"It's a really bunched leaderboard. There's a lot of people around the lead, so it will be a bit of a sprint to the finish tomorrow.

"There's 27 holes left to play and hopefully I can play a good back nine tomorrow morning and set myself up for an exciting last 18."


Ian Poulter

The Englishman had birdied the first but really came alive around the turn with birdies on the eighth, ninth, tenth and 12th as he looks for a first European Tour win since 2012.

"I holed a couple of nice putts, which was key to moving up the board, and I'm quite happy," he said. "I played real solid. I was able to hit some good shots, I was able to take advantage and hole a couple of nice putts and now I find myself on the board.

"It's nice to see myself up there on the board. It's nice to get off to a good start to 2016 and hopefully I can continue that through tomorrow and have a good finish."


Rickie Fowler

Back-to-back birdies on the tenth and 11th fired the American up the leaderboard as he seeks a second European Tour title after last season's Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open.

"The last two holes - ten and 11 – I hit some good shots," he said. "I made a good putt to finish on the 11th.

"The game feels good, I'm happy to make a couple of putts there at the last. I decided to hit the putt on 11 after the horn blew – I just wanted to make it to kind of keep things going - and I'm looking forward to getting back out tomorrow.

"I'm swinging really well. I've kind of rounded into form as the week has gone on."


Jordan Spieth

The World Number One began the third round seven shots off the lead but was just three back at the end of the day after completing a flawless 68 at the very last moment before darkness closed in.

"We were on about number six when the shadows were pretty long and weren't sure if we were going to make it," he said. "We got up there and didn't really know if there were any rules around us, who tees off first.

"We let them tee off first, and I was first to tee off and as I struck my shot, the horn blew at the buzzer. We were all very, very relieved to have that happen. It saved us about five-plus hours in arriving to the course tomorrow.

"If we came back tomorrow, nine would have been probably a much harder hole playing it when it's cooler.

"I'm very pleased. My short game is there when tee-to-green wasn't. But then, when my tee-to-green was on, I just didn't make anything. I just haven't made any putts this week. I've made maybe one outside of ten feet, and I've missed a few inside ten feet.

"I started out this tournament not driving the ball particularly well the first 12, 13 holes and since then my driver has been on. And that's really given me chances, but it's also made sure that I'm not making that many bogeys and that's why I'm still in it."

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1FOWLER, RickieUSA18-16
2PIETERS, ThomasBEL18-15
T3STENSON, HenrikSWE18-14
T5SIEM, MarcelGER18-11
T5SPIETH, JordanUSA18-11

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