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Big finish sends Højgaard clear in Ras Al Khaimah

Big finish sends Højgaard clear in Ras Al Khaimah

Nicolai Højgaard birdied five of his last six holes to match his lowest ever round on the DP World Tour and take a three-shot lead into the final day of the 2022 Ras Al Khaimah Championship presented by Phoenix Capital.

Nicolai Højgaard

The Dane entered day three two shots behind Scot David Law and the playing partners were engaged in a nip-and-tuck battle throughout the round before Højgaard's late burst saw him move to 20 under at Al Hamra Golf Club.

Law was his nearest challenger after a 69, a shot clear of Finn Tapio Pulkkanen, with South African Oliver Bekker then at 15 under.

Højgaard is seeking a second DP World Tour victory after his win at the 2021 DS Automobiles Italian Open, where he also led heading into the final round.

Identical twin brother Rasmus had claimed his third win the week before but Nicolai could get within one of his sibling as he rediscovers the form that saw him finish eighth on the 2021 DP World Tour Rankings in Partnership with Rolex after missing his last two cuts.

"I played really solid, got off to a good start today," he said. "I'm driving it well at the moment so I'm trying to play it quite aggressive and the last two days have been pretty good off the tee so that's the reason why I'm shooting these scores. It was a good day.

"I'm just thinking about the par fives, playing them four under and then seeing if I can make birdie on the rest of the holes.

"I'm trying to focus on the things I can control which is commitment and trying to free up and so far I'm happy with it. I had really good commitment and I'm just trying to free up on every shot and it felt good.

"Didn't roll any putts until 16 and I finished with a couple of good ones so it could be really, really low but I'm really satisfied with the round.

"You want to be in these positions going into the final round but it's 18 holes and a lot can happen. I'm going to try and do the same things, commitment and free up on the course, and I feel like I have a good chance."

You want to be in these positions going into the final round but it's 18 holes and a lot can happen

Højgaard trimmed the lead to one as he drove the par-four first and two-putted and while another two-putt birdie followed on the par-five third, the lead stayed at one as Law also made a gain after getting up and down.

There was then a two-shot swing on the fourth as Højgaard dropped a shot after a poor chip and Law put his tee-shot to nine feet but the 20-year-old hit straight back on the next with a hole-out from the sand for an eagle.

The leading duo then both took advantage of the par-five eighth but Højgaard followed a ragged tee-shot with a poor pitch into the sand on the tenth and Law led by two.

Law then holed a 15-footer from off the green at the 11th and Højgaard countered by getting up and down after driving over the green at the par-four 13th before a two-putt birdie at the par-five 14th trimmed the gap to one.

A 12-footer from the fringe at the 16th then brought Højgaard level and he hit the front on his own after a 22-foot putt at the 17th made it four birdies in five holes.

Yet another two-putt gain on the last sent Højgaard clear, with Law dropping a shot after hitting a poor second.

Pulkkanen birdied all four of the par fives and also added gains at the fourth, sixth, ninth, 12th and 13th, with a single dropped shot at the 16th in his 64.

Bekker made six birdies in a row from the third - including a chip-in at the fourth - and 12 pars in his 66.

Scot Robert MacIntyre and American Johannes Veerman carded rounds of 66 to get to 14 under, with Belgian Thomas Detry and Englishman Jordan Smith on the same score after a pair of 67s.

Spaniard Adrian Otaegui and South African Shaun Norris were then at 12 under.

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