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Zander Lombard leads by one ahead of final round

Zander Lombard leads by one ahead of final round

Zander Lombard will take a one-shot lead into the final round of the 2023 Ras Al Khaimah Championship as he bids to claim his maiden DP World Tour victory.

The South African began day three trailing the halfway co-leaders by four shots but carded nine birdies in a sparkling 63 on Saturday to hit the front on 16 under par.

The 28-year-old made a fast start at Al Hamra Golf Club on day three, picking up six shots on the front nine, with the highlight coming at the par-five eighth as he chipped in for a birdie at the second time of asking.

And he kept his foot on the gas on the trickier back nine, with birdies at the 12th, 17th and 18th taking Lombard to the top of the leaderboard.

Rasmus Højgaard was Lombard's nearest challenger on 15 under after managing to save par at the last despite finding the water there.

The 21-year-old Dane, who made five birdies and one bogey in his third-round 68, is aiming to emulate his twin Nicolai, who won this event last year, and in doing so make the Højgaards the first brothers to win the same tournament on the DP World Tour.

England's Daniel Gavins posted a spotless third-round 68 to sit in solo third on 14 under, one ahead of Frenchman Matthieu Pavon in fourth.

Defending champion Nicolai Højgaard was in a tie for fifth on 12 under alongside Alexander Björk.

Lombard flew out of the blocks, making birdies at the first, third and fourth to climb to ten under.

He gave himself another good chance at the fifth but had to settle for a par there before bouncing back with a nine-foot birdie at the sixth.

After sending his tee-shot to around 20 feet at the par-three seventh, Lombard rolled in the birdie putt before making a mess of his chip shot from the rough near the eighth green.

He only managed to nudge his ball forward by a few yards but made no mistake with his second effort, chipping in for a bonus birdie.

Lombard's next birdie arrived at the 12th, as he rolled in from long range, before a brilliant par save from ten feet on the 14th kept his card clean.

After going close at the 16th, Lombard chipped in again on the 17th from over the back of the green to take the outright lead on 15 under.

And he sent his approach at the last to around seven feet to give himself a good eagle chance there but had to settle for a closing birdie.

Lombard was thrilled with his day's work, saying: "It feels good. I did a lot of things really good. Just kept it steady, kept it solid and managed to hole a few putts and get some good momentum going.

"Nine under par, you don't shoot that every day but I felt solid straight out the blocks - I started birdie-par-birdie - and I just kept the mistakes off the card and that's the key to a good round."

Speaking about the prospect of entering the DP World Tour winner's circle for the first time more than ten years after making his debut, he said: "I've knocked on a lot of doors so it would be good to get over the line (for a win), but we’ll see what happens tomorrow."

Midway co-leader Rasmus Højgaard made four birdies on the front nine to lead by one shot at the turn, but a bogey at the tenth dropped him back to 14 under.

He birdied the 14th to get within one of the lead but dunked his second shot at the 18th into the water and did well to walk away from there with a par.

Højgaard said: "Today I played a lot better. I was better from the tee box and hit some good approach shots. Overall it's a pretty good day."

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