Third Round – European Tour – Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship –Abu Dhabi Country Club – United Arab Emirates –
The third round at the European Tour’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship was supposed to be a showdown between World No. 1 Rory McIlroy and Germany’s Martin Kaymer.
With just a two-shot separation between them, the stage was set for a classic duel. Instead, Rory struggled along to shoot 71, but Kaymer ramped up his lead stretching it out to six strokes after carding a 65.
Kaymer (20-under) needed just 25 putts through 54 holes. The three-time champion at this event has set the stage for a dominating finish Sunday at Abu Dhabi Country Club. Kaymer is no stranger to a runaway victory – he won the U.S. Open last year by eight strokes.
At No. 12 in the Official World Golf Ranking, Kaymer won in the United Arab Emirates in 2011, 2011 and 2008 – three of his 11 European Tour career victories. At www.skybet.com, he was listed as a 14-to-1 betting selection heading into the week.
Barring a total collapse or DQ by Kaymer, Thomas Pieters leads the race for second at 14-under. He is a shot clear of Thomas Levy and Bernd Wiesberger at T-3.
McIlroy slipped back to T-5 after a so-so day. He is tied with Charl Schwartzel, who shot 65 Saturday. Jamie Donaldson and Victor Dubuisson – both Top 5 finishers in the Race to Dubai last season – are T-8. Donaldson shot 65, while Dubuisson carded a 64 after a back-nine 31.
Other Golf news:
- Matt Kuchar and Webb Simpson are tied alongside Justin Thomas at 12-under through 36 holes at the PGA Tour’s Sony Open in Hawaii. Thomas carded a late-day 61 in Oahu Friday. Kuchar, 11th in the world ranking, won the RBC Heritage in 2014. Tim Clark and Jimmy Walker are also in the mix heading into the weekend.
- Simpson, playing with a traditional short putter, has just 49 putts through two rounds. Webb yielded the long-putter for years and won the U.S. Open playing the long stick. In 2016, the anchoring of putts (generally used by long putters) will be banned.
- Golf Channel is celebrating its 20th anniversary this weekend. Golf Channel has coverage of both the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship and Sony Open this weekend.
- Kuchar, who has three straight Top 8 finishes at the Sony Open, was a 20-1 pick to start the week to win in Oahu.