Spain’s Alvaro Quiros compiled a solid bogey-free 67 yesterday to take a one-shot advantage into the final round of a Hong Kong Open tournament he has led since the opening day.
The 28-year-old from Cadiz ended the third round on 10-under for the tournament, just ahead of Swede Peter Hanson, as he remains on course to win for a second time this year after capturing the Dubai Desert Classic in February.
Should Quiros win today, he will become the fourth Spaniard in 11 years to win the event despite having to restrict his big-hitting instincts on a tight, tree-lined par-70 Fanling course.
“I only used the driver four times today, so this golf course is still a very different challenge for me,” he told reporters.
Hanson, meanwhile, is hoping a long-distance journey from Florida to Sweden for a golf lesson will pay dividends with a first European Tour victory since last year’s Czech Open.
The 34-year-old moved into contention by recording six birdies in a round of just 27 putts for a five-under par 65 to end the third round on nine-under par and ensure he joins Quiros in the final pairing today.
“I’m living in Orlando, but my coach is based in Gothenburg and for a couple of reasons he couldn’t come out to Florida to see me,” Hanson said. “So I left Orlando, where it was a lovely 27°[C] to return to Sweden where it was really cold and I was wearing about three layers, to have a lesson with my coach in one those covered practice range bays.”
“Then I came here to Hong Kong, so I am hoping the lesson with him will pay off this week,” he added.
This year, Hanson’s best result has been joint-second behind Briton Paul Casey in January’s Volvo Champions event in Bahrain, but he did lead with five holes to play in the recent Portugal Masters before ending in a tie for 11th.
Sharing third place on eight-under par is South Korean Y.E. Yang (65) and Thailand’s Pariya Junhasavasdikul (67).
Pariya, who won for the first time on the Asian Tour at last year’s Taiwan Masters, dropped three shots on his first two holes, but recovered after seeing the funny side of the misspelling of his name on the leaderboard.
“I didn’t start out well, but then with a few birdies I found myself up there, but they spelt my name wrong, so I kind of laughed about that and it put me in my comfort zone,” the 27-year-old former Purdue University graduate said.
World No. 2 Rory McIlroy continued to struggle against fatigue and the Northern Irishman could only card a disappointing level-par 70 to fall back to fifth place, three shots behind the leader.
“I just didn’t have anything out there and mentally I just wasn’t at the races and just struggled to get anything going,” the US Open champion said. “It was nice to birdie a couple of holes coming in, but then I am only three behind and if I can get off to a decent start tomorrow I am right back in it.”
“I’m just struggling to try and get anything going. That will be the challenge for me tomorrow ... to try and get myself up 100 percent for it,” he added.