Tommy Fleetwood yesterday said he was not just “here for a party” as he roared back into contention at the Hong Kong Open — just a week after winning the European Tour crown.
Calmer winds and easier pin positions at the Hong Kong Golf Club made for a low-scoring third day that left the leading pack tightly clustered.
Englishman Fleetwood — who won the tour’s annual Race to Dubai on Sunday last week — hit a 66 on the par-70 course on day three to sit on eight-under 202.
He narrowed the gap to leader Shiv Chawrasia from five strokes to two ahead of the final round at the par-70 course.
“I played great. It was just a really steady round,” said Fleetwood, who received loud cheers from the galleries after finishing with a birdie. “It makes your sweet-and-sour pork taste a lot better.”
“If we were going to come here I wanted to make sure that I tried to play well. I wasn’t just coming here for a party after winning the Race to Dubai,” he added.
Fleetwood came within two strokes of winning last year’s Hong Kong Open, setting in motion a remarkable run that saw him gatecrash the world top 20 and ultimately pip Justin Rose to Europe’s order of merit title.
Rose yesterday carded a 68, moving to five-under and five off the lead, but he was disappointed not to have pushed on further.
“I got right there within touch to seven-under and actually had a putt to go eight-under,” the Olympic champion and world No. 6 said. “Maybe I was too greedy or aggressive [on the 16th]... I think to win you need that one low round. I haven’t had that low round yet. I’ve had solid rounds all week.”
Masters champion Sergio Garcia hit a solid 66 including five birdies, but stayed further back on four under for the tournament. A series of missed putts on the back nine had likely left him too far off the pace, he said.
“It’s going to be very, very tricky... I just haven’t felt comfortable all week for some reason,” he said.
Meanwhile, overnight leader Chawrasia had a measured round of 69, containing 15 pars to finish at 10-under and lead by one stroke from Spain’s Rafael Cabrera-Bello and Australia’s Wade Ormsby.
Cabrera-Bello, the Spanish world No. 20, carded 64 in a round that included six birdies and an eagle.
Cabrera-Bello led last year’s edition of the Open for most of the tournament before being pipped by surprise winner Sam Brazel’s improbable birdie on the 18th hole.
“I just told the hole to stay still and find my ball. Today it listened,” he joked.
Taiwan’s Lin Wen-tang fell four places to tie for 42nd with even-par 210, while Hung Chien-yao fell 10 places to 56th with one-over 212. Lu Wei-chih and Chan Shih-chang missed the cut.
Additional reporting by staff writer
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