Lucas Bjerregaard and Justin Rose are set for a final day showdown at the UBS Hong Kong Open after the leading duo could not be separated during an enthralling third round at Hong Kong Golf Club.
Rose had held a one shot lead over the Dane coming into the weekend and the World Number Seven recorded two eagles and two birdies in a very impressive 64 that saw him move to 15 under. But Bjerregaard withstood everything his playing partner could throw at him and signed for a 63 with a bogey on the last the only blemish as he goes in search of a first European Tour title.
Anirban Lahiri was at 11 under after a 65 with countryman Jeev Milkha Singh and recently crowned British Masters champion Matthew Fitzpatrick a further shot back, but the story of the day was the toe-to-toe battle between the leaders.
Rose was handed an early test at the first as he hit his tee shot well right and had to chip out onto the fairway but he showed his class with an approach to 10 feet and made par. The Englishman then bombed a drive 356 yards down the third and when he found the green with his second shot, he rolled home the putt to get to 11 under.
Bjerregarrd made back-to-back birdies at the third and fourth and, when he made another gain at the sixth thanks to a stunning approach to two feet, he joined Rose at the top of the leaderboard.
Both leaders birdied the tenth to open up a two shot lead and that was when Bjerregaard came to life, holing from 12 feet on the 11th and then putting his tee shot to the par three 12th to 10 feet to open up a two shot lead.
Rose does not have a US Open to his name for nothing, though, and he holed a 50 foot putt for eagle on the 13th to once again share the lead before Bjerregaard followed him in to make it four birdies in a row.
Another birdie followed from Rose on the 15th but as was now to be expected, his playing partner responded instantly, picking up an eighth birdie of the day on the 16th. The Dane’s wayward tee shot on the 18th led to a dropped shot meaning the leading duo will be neck and neck when they go out in the final group again.
“Lucas played unbelievable golf today,” said Rose. “I actually didn’t know much about his game – first of all he’s a lovely guy and second, he can really play. “I hung with him and what impressed me today was the couple of par saves that I had to make, which I managed to do.
“The first hole, I didn’t play the hole particularly well but made a nice 15-foot putt for par there and then eagling the third kind of got me up and running. It was just a really fun day playing with Lucas and flip-flopping birdies and eagles and really stretching away from the field. It was a lot of fun.”
Bjerregaard had a similar assessment of the day, commenting: “It was great. I really enjoyed it out there with Justin. He’s a really good guy and we kept making birdies, especially around the turn.
“I played some good golf today and it was nice to get off to a good start, as well, to take some of the pressure off. So I’m really looking forward to tomorrow. Obviously it’s not fun to finish off any round with a bogey and especially not today. I hit a bad tee shot on 18 there, pretty much my only bad shot of the day. It wasn’t the way I wanted to finish, but still, I’m very happy with the round today.”
Ian Poulter’s bid to complete what would have been an incredible victory given his late entry to the tournament seems to be over after the Englishman dropped down the field with a three over par 73 to join his Ryder Cup team mate Graeme McDowell on four under.
American Ryder Cup star Patrick Reed, meanwhile, posted a fine 65 to move to eight under going into the final round.