Doha, Qatar – Chris Wood turned in an 8-under 64 on Friday to grab a 3-stroke lead after three rounds of the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters.
Wood, who is aiming for his first victory in 115 career European Tour events, began Friday two shots off the pace. The 2009 Rookie of the year then carded seven birdies and an eagle against a single bogey to finish 54 holes at 15- under 201.
"I'm very excited," said Wood. "I wouldn't say it was one of my best rounds, but I played very solid and was giving myself loads of chances."
Simon Khan matched Wood for low score of the third round, which vaulted him into a tie for second place with Alexander Noren (66) and former U.S. Open winner Michael Campbell (68) at 12-under.
Sergio Garcia, one of four overnight leaders, bogeyed two of his last four at Doha Golf Club holes to fall into a tie for fifth with Branden Grace (67) at minus-11. Garcia is making his season debut, while Grace is coming off a fifth-place finish at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship.
Garcia's Ryder Cup teammate Martin Kaymer was another overnight leader, but he shot even-par on Friday and fell into a tie with Anthony Wall (70), Steve Webster (67) and Gary Lockerbie (71) at 9-under.
Marcus Fraser and Ricardo Santos, the other second-round leaders, recorded a 71 and 76, respectively. The former is knotted in seventh place with Thorbjorn Olesen (70), George Coetzee (70) and Jbe' Kruger (68) at 10-under, while the latter slipped to minus-5.
Louis Oosthuizen (68), a winner at the Volvo Golf Champions in his previous start, and Jason Dufner (67), who is making his first appearance in Qatar, highlight a large group deadlocked at minus-8.
Justin Rose sits a 6-under after carding a third-round 71. The world No. 4 finished a shot behind winner Jamie Donaldson in Abu Dhabi last week.
Current Open champion Ernie Els sits near the bottom of the leaderboard at 1- over.
Wood, who has posted 19 top-10 finishes on the European Tour, racked up five birdies in his opening nine holes, but he didn't take sole possession of the lead until he drained an 8-foot eagle putt on the par-5 10th.
A 3-putt bogey on the 12th dropped the world No. 142 back to 13-under, but he rebounded with short birdie putts on Nos. 14 and 16 to close with the lead.
"Going out today I thought as long as I kept myself in the mix going into tomorrow, then I was going to be really looking forward to it, but leading gives me a bit of a cushion," Wood continued. "Obviously it's going to be hard. It's hard to win any tournament on the European Tour, so it's going to be difficult."
Garcia was just two shots off the pace through 13 holes when Wood headed to the clubhouse, but the Spaniard faltered down the stretch. He bogeyed the par-4 15th, then dropped another shot after finding the water with his third shot on the par-5 last.
NOTES: Wood tied for third at the Open Championship in 2009, a year after finishing tied for fifth at the same event as an amateur. At 6 feet, 5 inches, he is the tallest player on the European Tour ... Rose was assessed a 1-stroke penalty during the first round when his ball moved prior to a tap-in par attempt.