Sport Golf

Tuesday 12 December 2017

Rose sets hot pace as Irish contingent falter

Dermot Gilleece in Abu Dhabi

Bad enough to have Hamlet without the prince, but it seemed like we were also missing his friend, Horatio, for plot development, in the third round of the HSBC Championship yesterday. With Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods gone from the scene, it fell to Justin Rose to maintain command of the tournament.

Two homeward bogeys in an otherwise exemplary 68 left the Englishman on 12-under par, two strokes clear of Thorbjorn Olesen and Irish Open champion Jamie Donaldson in a share of second place.

Having blamed his early departure more on "the Indian than the arrow", McIlroy remained in the area to work on his misbehaving new Nike clubs in nearby Dubai. Meanwhile, the Irish challenge was headed by Peter Lawrie and Gareth Maybin, both on three-under par.

Two closing birdies might have done much for Pádraig Harrington's prospects, but for the fact that they simply repaired the damage of a double-bogey for the second day on the short 15th. This time it was a duffed bunker recovery which had him talking afterwards of poor concentration.

"Since my work with Pete Cowen earlier in the week, the irons have been fine, except that I haven't had enough of them from the fairway," he said. "But my main concern is to meet up next week with Dave Alred (motivational coach) and get that area of my game back into proper shape."

He added: "I'm optimistic; there's a lot of good stuff happening."

Lawrie's distance control with his irons was really impressive, given that this is his first event of the year. And he also putted well for a 69, holing from 25, 10, three and six feet for his four birdies. "I managed my game very nicely, playing sensible golf," he said. "But I'm determined I have to do well this season. I must win a tournament."

Maybin, however, has other things on his mind. "We're expecting our first child in May and I'm hugely excited," he said after a third successive 71. "In a way, it's going to decide my year."

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