Saturday, 26 January 2019
Kalle Samooja  (Getty Images)
Kalle Samooja (Getty Images)

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Kalle Samooja relished playing alongside Major Champion Sergio Garcia as he produced a third-round 68 to jump into contention at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.

The 31 year old is a rookie on the European Tour after graduating from the Challenge Tour last season, finishing fourth in the Road to Ras Al Khaimah Rankings.

The Finn carded six birdies - including four on the back nine - and two bogeys on Saturday to move to 12 under par, which is his lowest score after 54 holes on the European Tour, nine better than his previous best at the Alfred Dunhill Championship.

Samooja's 68 was two shots better than the third-round score achieved by 2017 Masters Tournament winner Garcia, who made three birdies and a bogey.

Asked how it felt to play with and outscore Garcia, Samooja said: "It feels great. I'm really enjoying myself, especially last week and this week, the courses are amazing.

"I played here three years ago in a practice round and I thought it was a pretty different set-up and I was just thinking, I want to be here playing this tournament one day and three years later, here I am.

"We have a good group of Finns playing (on the European Tour) so I think it helps me to settle in.

"I know the courses are tougher than on the Challenge Tour, of course. You just have to sharpen up your game when you come here. You can't hit any loose shots."

Samooja, who tasted victory at the Hainan Open on the Challenge Tour last year, is looking forward to Sunday's final round. He said: "I feel comfortable with my game. I think I just need to follow my game plan and hopefully I get a good chance on the back nine tomorrow.

"It is a ten-times bigger tournament than the one in China, but a win is always a win. It doesn't matter how big the tournament is. 

"I'll just go and enjoy myself on the course and see who I play with tomorrow."

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
2WALLACE, MattENG18-17
T3WARING, PaulENG18-16
T3GARCIA, SergioESP18-16
T3QUIROS, AlvaroESP18-16

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