Rose holds on to the reins in Abu Dhabi
Golf:Justin Rose remains on course for a dream debut in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship in Abu Dhabi after doubling his advantage to two shots in today’s third round.
With no Rory McIlroy or Tiger Woods to worry about after the world’s top two missed the halfway cut, the leading remaining player had every reason to feel confident when he resumed on eight under par.
A three-putt opening bogey from only 15 feet was not quite what the 32-year-old had in mind, but then came five birdies in six holes as his class shone through again.
A tee shot to four feet on the short 12th brought fifth-ranked Rose another and a four-stroke advantage over the field, but that gap came down to one when he bogeyed the 13th and 17th.
He was just short of the green in two on the long 18th, however, and a chip to two feet gave him a seventh birdie of the day, a 68 and a 12 under aggregate.
Welshman Jamie Donaldson and Dane Thorbjorn Olesen are in joint second place after both handed in 69s.
Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee, third last week at the Volvo Golf Champions, is a further stroke back and then come Scot Richie Ramsay, England’s David Howell and Spaniard Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano on eight under.
Peter Lawrie (69) and Gareth Maybin (71) will both be looking for a strong finish on Sunday after moving to three under on Saturday. Pádraig Harrington is a shot further back after a 70, but Michael Hoey’s challenge faded after a 74 pushed him out to three over.
Not surprisingly, Rose is delighted with where it is and the absence of McIlroy and Woods from the closing two rounds makes no difference to him.
Rose said: “Anybody who wins this week, they have beaten the number one and number two in the world. You can say you’ve beaten the best.”
Relegated to fifth in the world by Louis Oosthuizen’s victory in South Africa last week, Rose would take the position back by lifting the title.
That would again leave only McIlroy, Woods and Luke Donald ahead of them and he will be hoping to close on them even more at next week’s Qatar Masters, the second leg of the European Tour’s Middle East swing.
“I believe that any tournament I tee up in I can win,” said Rose, who picked up his first world championship trophy in Miami last March, played one of the starring roles in the Ryder Cup and then beat McIlroy and Woods in an unofficial event in Turkey two weeks later.
There was also his closing 62 in Dubai in November, although on that occasion McIlroy denied him with five closing birdies.