Dubai, UAE: Andy Sullivan will take a two-stroke lead over Matt Wallace into the final round as the inaugural Golf in Dubai Championship presented by DP World is set for an enthralling finish as a host of European Tour winners lie within striking distance.
Sullivan began the day three ahead and increased his lead to four by the tenth but was pegged back when Wallace picked up three shots in five holes after the turn.
Both players birdied the short par four 16th as Sullivan remained one clear and he gave himself some daylight with an excellent gain on the 17th to get to 21 under.
“I’m happy because I don’t think I played brilliantly, said Sullivan. “I played solidly on the front nine but didn’t really swing it that well from around the tenth until the 14th and I didn’t give myself many chances. I found some good swings coming in and picked up a couple of birdies on 16 and 17, so I think four under is a fair reflection of how I played.
“There’s a lot of golf to be played and there’ll be a lot of birdies made tomorrow so I’ve just got to go out, play my game and if I play like I did on the first two days I’ll be a happy man.”
It’s set up nicely as Wallace’s last three victories on the European Tour have all come from chasing positions, while Sullivan has proved he’s a good front-runner with his wire-to-wire victory at the English Championship in August.
Sitting three strokes back on 18 under par is Ross Fisher, who carded a 68, and Italian Renato Paratore, who moved up four places thanks to his superb bogey free seven under par 65.
“I started really well with a chip in on the first and made good birdies on 8 and 9 and I’m really happy to finish with a bogey free round,” said Paratore, winner of the Betfred British Masters in July. “I’ve been playing well so I just told myself to stay focused and try and make some birdies. It’s a nice situation to be in contention so lets see what happens tomorrow.”
Another Italian is well placed on the leaderboard after Francesco Laporta carded a 65 to move up eight spots into a share of fifth on 17 under par, alongside Frenchman Antoine Rozner.
“I need a victory to play next week and that’s my only goal,” said Laporta. “I’ve played solid all three days and only made four bogeys. The game is solid and I’m hoping for more tomorrow. I know how I feel under pressure and last year was good for me with two wins on the Challenge Tour. I know my game right now and I’m feeling good. I just need another good day.”
Five players reached 16 under par to sit five strokes back, including Mike Lorenzo-Vera who holed a long, raking eagle putt on the last.
Joining the Frenchman are Swedish pair Niklas Lemke and Oscar Lengden, Germany’s Max Schmitt and Scotland’s Robert MacIntyre, winner of the Aphrodite Hills Cyprus Showdown three weeks ago.
MacIntyre started like a train with five consecutive birdies and then an eagle on the par five seventh to go out in 29. A double bogey pegged him back on the 11th and he picked up a birdie on the 13th before making pars the rest of the way for a six under par 66.
“I’m happy with six under par and I’d have taken that this morning if you’d have offered it me,” said MacIntyre. “After the start I made it wasn’t such a sweet finish but that’s all part of the game. It looks like being another shoot out tomorrow which suits me and suits my game. I’m playing great and putting good so we’ll see where we end up.”