HONG KONG: Youngster Aaron Rai held off fellow Englishmen Tommy Fleetwood and Matt Fitzpatrick at the Hong Kong Open Saturday, to lead by six strokes heading into the final day.
The 23-year-old, who set a course record on Friday, was seven shots worse on Saturday as he carded a two-under par 68 in the third round. The round included his first bogeys of the tournament but was good enough to extend his lead.
“Nothing is ever done until it’s done and 18 holes is a lot of golf,” said the Wolverhampton native who is seeking his first win on the European Tour.
After bogeying the first hole, Ryder-Cup star Fleetwood carded a 66.
“Not an exceptional round but another good solid round,” the world number nine said, adding that the short fairways of Fanling and Rai’s form were proving a “test of patience.”
However, the Merseysider said he believed he was “still well in there” in the chase for the title.
Spain’s Sergio Garcia, who carded a six-under 64 which included an eagle on the tenth, was in fourth, seven shots off the lead.
Garcia said, that his total was “still going to be a little bit far behind. We’re going to need a little bit of help from the leaders finishing up.”
Park Hyo-won of Korea, who started the day in second, shot four bogeys and was later docked two strokes to card 73, putting him nine shots off the lead.
Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee and France’s Victor Perez both shot a four-under 66 to sit eight behind the leader.
After producing a stunning six birdies on the last seven to make the cut on day two, Masters champion Patrick Reed failed to find the magic again.
A double bogey on the fourth and a frustrating bogey on the last green all but put the American out of the running for his first win on the European Tour.