Franceso Molinari didn’t blink on the front nine as he stood eyeball to eyeball with the new World Number One Lee Westwood in the final round of the WGC – HSBC Champions.
The Ryder Cup teammates moved further ahead of the field with a scintillating first nine holes after the start had been delayed by an hour and 15 minutes as morning fog enveloped the course at Sheshan International Golf Club in Shanghai
Once underway, Molinari doubled his overnight lead with a birdie on the second to move two ahead of his rival. Thereafter they matched each other blow for blow, both picking up shots on the third, fifth and eighth hole.
Westwood had a chance to pull a shot back with a birdie chance on the ninth from ten feet, but the putt was never on the right line, falling away on the left side. Molinari, after a mishit second came up short, chipped to five feet and confidently stroked his putt home to turn in 32 to Westwood’s 33.
And with their nearest challengers failing to make any impact, the two men in front stood out alone heading into the back nine - Molinari on 18 under par and Westwood on 16 under.
Luke Donald, the third player in the final group made three bogeys on the front nine of 38 to fall back to eight over par, and Ross Fisher had moved into third place on ten under with three birdies and a bogey over the first half but at ten under par and a distant eight shots off the lead, the stage is clear for Molinari and Westwood to battle for the title.
Follow the updates over the last nine with Nick Dye's audio coverage here