Chris Hanson carries narrow lead into final day in Rabat

Englishman leads by a stroke from Clement Berardo and compatriot David Dixon

Chris Hanson leads heading into the final day in Rabat. Photograph: Getty

Chris Hanson leads heading into the final day in Rabat. Photograph: Getty

 

England’s Chris Hanson will take a narrow lead into the final round of the Hassan Trophy after equalling the lowest score of the week at Royal Golf Dar Es Salam.

Hanson carded a third round of 67 in Rabat to finish six under par, a shot ahead of compatriot David Dixon and France’s Clement Berardo, with rookie Josh White another shot back in fourth.

“I can’t say I was confident of shooting that kind of score today, but I’ve been playing pretty well lately and today it all came together nicely,” said Hanson, who is ranked 640th in the world and only gained his European Tour card from the qualifying school in November at the 10th attempt.

“I got rewarded for playing some good golf today, which doesn’t always happen, so it’s nice when it does.”

Paul Dunne was the pick of the Irish contingent on Saturday, as he shot a three under par round of 69 to sit at one over par and in a tie for 26th place, seven off the lead.

Paul Lawrie also sits on one over but had a day to forget as a 77 saw his hopes of challenging on Sunday fade away.

Kevin Phelan was another who saw his hopes disappear as he signed for a six over par 78 to sit at six over par, while Gary Hurley is also six over after his 75.

Leader Hanson carded five birdies, an eagle and two bogeys to surge through the field, although the 30-year-old from Huddersfield admitted he enjoyed a slice of good fortune with his eagle on the 12th.

“Actually I got a bit lucky because I hit my chip a bit hard but it hit the pin and dropped in,” he added. “But on a course like this you need every bit of luck that comes your way.

“I played a lot of golf in the wind growing up and that probably suits me. It’s a very demanding golf course and there are a lot of tee shots where if you are not quite on it and lose a bit of concentration you are going to rack up some big numbers. It was just one shot at a time and really focus hard on trying to hit a good shot.

“It feels like it’s been a long time coming. I’ve been around a long time now and not quite made it to the main tour. To come through the q-school and get the last card was nice and to get into contention this week is a big confidence boost. Hopefully I can press on and do some nice things tomorrow.”

Dixon, who carded seven birdies and two bogeys in his 67, was the leading amateur in the Open at Royal Lytham in 2001 and won the Saint Omer Open in 2008, but lost his card in 2012 and currently holds the joint lowest world ranking possible of 1,760.

“I didn’t get many starts at the beginning of the season but hopefully I’ve got a bit of a run of events coming up so it’d be a good time to find a bit of form and start climbing the rankings,” the 39-year-old from Somerset said.

“The course is great, I really enjoy it. You can’t hit any bad shots and get away with them. You really have to focus on every single shot so the cream should rise to the top and hopefully I’ll be up there come Sunday evening.”

White, who is playing just the third European Tour event of his career, revealed he had some extra inspiration behind his third round of 70, with his caddie Pedro Ramseyer having previously worked for the late Seve Ballesteros.

“Pedro is a top, top man and he’s definitely saved me a few shots in the last three rounds,” the 24-year-old said.

“He said to me this morning on the putting green it was five years ago today that Seve passed away and I had some short-game shots out there today that needed some Seve hands and Pedro reminded me: ‘Come on, Seve can do this, you can do this’.

“It was a bit of a buzz and in the back of my head I thought let’s knuckle down and do this and it helped.”

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