November 17, 2007 – Robert Karlsson will take a commanding four-shot lead into the final round of the UBS Hong Kong Open after another impressive display of controlled aggression on Saturday.
The giant Swede carded a four-under-par 66 in the third round at the Hong Kong Golf Club in Fanling to keep his pursuers at bay.
Not even his first bogey of the tournament – a five at the par-four ninth after two blemish-free rounds – could halt his progress as he moved to 16-under 194 for the tournament.
His playing partner, former champion Miguel Angel Jiménez of Spain, is in second place on 12-under 198 after also returning a 66.
“I’m very happy with the way I played today and that is the most important thing,” said Karlsson.
“Both me and Miguel had a fantastic start and if you play well the first few holes, you get into the rhythm of the round and we made the most of it.”
Karlsson has struggled in previous years on Fanling’s tight par-70 Championship Course and has deliberately reined in his power game this week.
He continued the tactic on Saturday. “I haven’t really changed anything, I hit pretty much the same clubs as I did the other days,” he said.
“If you hit it in the rough a few times then it becomes a totally different golf course because then it’s really hard to stop the ball on the green.”
He said he was confident heading into the final day of the US$2.25 million showpiece.
“You’d take a four-shot lead on any course but it is definitely a tricky course to try and pick up a lot of shots on,” he said.
“But at the same time there are low scores out there and so tomorrow it is all about focusing on putting another low score together.
“If someone beats me then I can’t do anything about that but my focus is on another good, solid round.”
Jiménez said he would be looking to apply pressure on Karlsson when the duo are paired again in Sunday’s final round.
“We both played well, especially on the front nine,” said the 2004 champion. “Robert is playing fantastic. He is solid in every part of his game. I want to put pressure on him with some birdies tomorrow.”
Four players are a shot behind Jiménez on 11-under 199 – Korean star KJ Choi (65), Sweden’s Peter Hanson (65), Australian Marcus Fraser (64) and Shiv Kapur (65).
Fraser, who is making his first visit to Fanling, was delighted with his round and full of praise for the course.
“I just played nice and solid and I felt like I had a lot of control over where I was putting the ball,” he said.
“There is not much grain in the greens, they run pretty true and it is just a brilliant golf course.
“There are not too many places where we get to play, not a short golf course, but one where you have to be on your toes all the time instead of just smashing away to massive greens. There is a lot of patience involved in a course like this.”
But it was a frustrating day for 2003 Masters champion Mike Weir, who carded a 67 to stand six shots off the pace.
The Canadian left-hander not only had to battle a cold putter but narrowly missed a hole-in-one on the 144-yard, par-three 12th, where title sponsor UBS is offering a solid 1kg gold bar to the first player to ace the hole.
The unlucky Weir saw his tee shot land directly in the cup and then bounce out.
“I used a nice, solid pitching wedge and I would like to see the replay on how far down the ball went into that hole,” he said.
“It’s a crazy round as I hardly made any putts out there and I was unable to get my momentum going. I actually played better than yesterday [he had a 64 on Friday] but was unable to make the putts.”