European Tour

Fleetwood closes gap in Hong Kong

2017-11-25 11:50
Tommy Fleetwood (Getty Images)

Hong Kong - Tommy Fleetwood warned he was not just "here for a party" as he roared back into contention at the Hong Kong Open on Saturday - just a week after winning the European Tour crown.

Calmer winds and easier pin positions at the Hong Kong Golf Club made for a low-scoring third day that left the leading pack tightly clustered.

Englishman Fleetwood - who won the tour's annual Race to Dubai title on Sunday - hit a 66 on the par-70 course on day three to sit on eight under-par 202.

He narrowed the gap to leader SSP Chawrasia from five strokes to two ahead of the final round at the par-70 course in Fanling.

"I played great. It was just a really steady round," said Fleetwood, who received loud cheers from the galleries after finishing with a birdie. "It makes your sweet and sour pork taste a lot better."

"If we were going to come here I wanted to make sure that I tried to play well. I wasn't just coming here for a party after winning the Race to Dubai," he added.

Fleetwood came within two strokes of winning last year's Hong Kong Open, setting in motion a remarkable run that saw him gatecrash the world top 20 and ultimately pip Justin Rose to Europe's order of merit title.

On Saturday, Rose carded a 68, moving to five-under and five off the lead, but he was disappointed not to have pushed on further.

"I got right there within touch to seven-under, and actually had a putt to go eight-under," said the Olympic champion and world number six.

"Maybe I was too greedy or aggressive (on the 16th)... I think to win you need that one low round. I haven't had that low round yet. I've had solid rounds all week."

"There is one in there. I've just got to figure it out... When there's seven, eight, nine, 10 guys in front of you, you know one of those guys is going to play very well on Sunday. It means you have to have an exceptional round."

- 'I told the hole to stay still' -

Masters champion Sergio Garcia hit a solid 66 including five birdies, but stayed further back on four under for the tournament. He admitted that a series of missed putts on the back nine had likely left him too far off the pace.

"The way I'm feeling at the moment, probably not," said the Spaniard, when asked whether he expected to challenge on Sunday.

"It's going to be very, very tricky... I just haven't felt comfortable all week for some reason."

Meanwhile overnight leader Chawrasia had a measured round of 69, containing 15 pars to finish at 10-under and lead by one stroke from Spain's Rafael Cabrera-Bello and Australia's Wade Ormsby.

Cabrera-Bello, the Spanish world number 20, carded 64 in a round that included six birdies and an eagle.

Cabrera-Bello led last year's edition of the Hong Kong Open for most of the tournament before being pipped by surprise winner Sam Brazel's improbable birdie at a tough 18th hole.

"I think I'm going to be within reach, so I do believe that I can win it for sure," said Cabrera-Bello.

"I think it would be a little extra-special, the fact that last year I finished runner-up. There's still a lot of golf to be played, I can answer that tomorrow if the win happens.

Asked to explain his improved score Saturday, he joked: "I just told the hole to stay still and find my ball. Today it listened."

Scores after Saturday's third round of the Hong Kong Open at par-70 Hong Kong Golf Club:

200 - SSP Chawrasia (IND) 65-66-69

201 - Wade Ormsby (AUS) 68-68-65, Rafa Cabrera Bello (ESP) 69-68-64

202 - Alexander Bjork (SWE) 69-66-67, Thomas Detry (BEL) 67-69-66, Tommy Fleetwood (ENG) 68-68-66

203 - Paul Peterson (USA) 70-68-65

204 - Micah Lauren Shin (USA) 67-69-68, Julian Suri (USA) 68-67-69, Dylan Frittelli (RSA) 71-65-68, Marcus Kinhult (SWE) 67-69-68, Chris Hanson (ENG) 71-66-67

205 - Joakim Lagergren (SWE) 69-66-70, Poom Saksansin (THA) 67-68-70, James Morrison (ENG) 71-66-68, Justin Rose (ENG) 68-69-68, Sam Crocker (USA) 69-70-66, Thongchai Jaidee (THA) 68-71-66

206 - Jamie Donaldson (WAL) 67-69-70, Shubhankar Sharma (IND) 66-71-69, Kiradech Aphibarnrat (THA) 70-68-68, Matthew Fitzpatrick (ENG) 66-73-67, Sam Brazel (AUS) 69-71-66, Sergio Garcia (ESP) 69-71-66, Chris Paisley (ENG) 71-70-65, Clement Sordet (FRA) 71-71-64

Selected:

207 - Thomas Aiken (RSA) 69-64-74

209 - Li Haotong (CHI) 68-69-72, Miguel Angel Jimenez (ESP) 70-69-70

211 - Gavin Green (MAL) 69-68-74

216 - Scott Hend (AUS) 73-67-76

Read more on:    tommy fleetwood  |  golf
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