Rafa Cabrera Bello battled to a level par 70 on day three of the UBS Hong Kong Open to head into the final round with a share of the lead alongside Australia’s Sam Brazel.
The Spaniard entered Saturday with a three-shot lead over his Australian playing partner and extended that to five on the front nine but three bogeys in four holes before the turn and a double-bogey on the 14th saw him lose the lead for the first time since midday on Thursday.
The 32-year-old said:
“Today, my score had all colours of the rainbow in it! There’s been a lot of positives and a lot of negatives. I got off to a good start after the bogey on the first with birdies on two, three and five was what I was looking for. But then silly bogeys on six and seven ruined the tone of the day a little bit. I was trying to find a stable day where I was just playing solid like I had these past two days. But the best thing, is I’m still in it. I’m still leading. Of course it would have been nicer to have a few to spare but I still would have needed to play great tomorrow and I’m still in a position.
A win for Cabrera Bello would cap off an excellent 2016 that has seen the 32 year old make an undefeated Ryder Cup debut and finish eighth on the Race to Dubai Rankings presented by Rolex without missing a single cut.
Asian Tour regular Brazel bogeyed his opening hole but bounced back brilliantly with four birdies to tie with overnight leader Cabrera Bello.
The 38-year-old was delighted he fought back from a jittery start: “It was fun out there. I started a little nervous on the first but I guess that’s the situation you’re in. I felt the nerves a little bit at lunch time, but just sort of grinded it out and it was fun out there. We all get a bit nervous from time to time. It’s good to have nerves I think. I won’t speculate on what it would mean for me to win. I’ll just go play one shot at a time and see what happens. I’ll try and control the nerves a little better than I did today. Just try to go out there and enjoy the atmosphere of it all and just take it all in. It’s been fun.”
England’s Tommy Fleetwood was two shots behind the leaders at nine under, with American David Lipsky a further shot back at Hong Kong Golf Club.