India’s SSP Chawrasia kept his nose ahead of a star-studded field with a one-under 69 in the penultimate round of the UBS Hong Kong Open golf tournament on Saturday.
Chawrasia, who has four European Tour titles but all at home in India, has now shot 65-66-69 to move to 10-under 200 and is one shot clear of Rafa Cabrera Bello and Wade Ormsby, whose respective scores of 64 and 65 saw them charge through the field.
India’s Shubhankar Sharma (69) had a great run between 13th and 15th, when he eagled 13th and birdied 14th and 15th but bogeyed the last and was tied 19th.
Mukesh Kumar (70) had everything in his round, an eagle on 13th, a double bogey on 18th besides three birdies and three bogeys. He is tied 56th.
Despite missing a bunch of makeable putts but holding out to make the crucial par putts, Chawrasia one of the shortest hitters in the field, has birdies on the two Par-5s on third and 14th and his only dropped shot was on ninth.
But what cost him was his putting. He had 16 greens in regulation but needed 33 putts.
“I definitely left a couple of shots out there. I felt a little extra pressure today which probably why missed a couple of putts but I think I can do something special tomorrow. This course really suits my game but this is the first year that I have played well here and I am leading,” Chawrasia said.
Chawrasia was candid enough to admit that: “To be honest, I thought someone would be able to catch me from behind simply because of my putting. There’s a little bit of pressure, but I can manage that. This course really suits me, but somehow I’ve not been playing well here. But finally this year, I’m leading.
“So, quite happy. I think if I’m feeling nervous, the other players will also be nervous. But I’m okay. I’ve played under these kind of pressure before so I’m all right.”
“I’m looking forward to tomorrow. I have played with Cabrera Bello many times and he is a nice guy. I’ll definitely have to shoot a low number to win because someone just behind me will definitely go low,” he added.
After two tough and windy days, the wind has dropped down a little bit and stayed a bit more consistent.
Europe’s number one Tommy Fleetwood carded a third round 66 to move into a tie for fourth place alongside Belgium’s Thomas Detry (66) and Swede Alexander Bjrk (67) with American Paul Peterson a further shot back on seven-under after his outstanding 65.
Olympic champion Justin Rose and Masters champion Sergio Garcia are five and six shots back.
Chawrasia, a six-time Asian Tour winner, four of those titles were co-sanctioned with Europe, is seeking his second win outside India and will be drawing confidence from his recent good form and positive mental approach towards his game.
The Hong Kong Open has never had a wire-to-wire winner and Chawrasia is seeking to improve on his best finish in Hong Kong after finishing tied fifth in 2014.