Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates – Justin Rose carded a 4- under 68 on Saturday to extend his lead to two strokes after three rounds of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship.
Rose got through 54 holes at 12-under-par 204. The Englishman has the 54-hole lead for the third time in his career on the European Tour and will go for his sixth tour title on Sunday.
Jamie Donaldson and Thorbjorn Olesen posted matching rounds of 3-under 69 and share second place at minus-10 at Abu Dhabi Golf Club.
Thongchai Jaidee fired a 6-under 66 to jump into fourth at 9-under 207.
Rose, who had at least a piece of the lead after the first two rounds, stumbled to a bogey on the first and that created a 6-way tie for the lead.
Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, who played with Rose, birdied the second to move to minus-8. Rose rolled in a 10-footer for birdie at the fourth to join the Spaniard atop the leaderboard.
Rose drained a 22-foot birdie effort at five and made it three in a row as his 14-foot birdie try at the sixth found the bottom of the cup.
After a par on seven, Rose played his third shot to eight feet at the par-5 eighth, and converted that putt for birdie. He made the turn at 12-under after sinking a 5-foot birdie effort at the ninth.
"Things were going well at that point. Things went well the whole day to be honest with you." Rose said in a televised interview. "I felt really in control. I felt every time I had a club in my hand, I felt like I was going to hit a good shot, which is a nice feeling to have out on the golf course."
Rose, the world No. 5, sank his sixth birdie of the day at the 12th and that pushed his lead to four strokes. However, a poor drive at No. 13 led to his second bogey of the round.
He parred the next three before finding more trouble at 17. Rose found a bunker off the tee at the par-4. His approach shot landed on the green, but he 3-putted for bogey from long range.
Rose erased that mistake with an up-and-down birdie at the closing hole.
"Sort of surprised to make three bogeys on the day since I felt so good about my game, but I guess two 3-putts," Rose stated. "For the most part, I was very much in control."
Part of the reason Rose had an up-and-down back nine was the fact that he and Fernandez-Castano had been put on the clock for slow play.
"I felt like that was a bit of a battle through the back nine. I was really surprised how far we did fall back. I didn't feel we were playing overly slowly or anything," Rose explained. "Obviously, we were deliberate at times, but I was surprised to see the boys a hole and half ahead of us. The rhythm of the day definitely changed, so that was something I had to deal with."
Donaldson and Olesen were paired in the penultimate group. Donaldson, ranked No. 47, had a pair of birdies on the front nine. Around the turn, he tripped to a bogey at 12, but came back with birdies at 15 and 18.
Olesen, the world No. 52, carded a bogey-free round with birdies at five, 11 and 18. His only bogey of the week was on his final hole of the opening round.
Fernandez-Castano (71) shares fifth place with Richie Ramsay (67) and David Howell (68). Howell has had just two top-10 finishes in each of the last two seasons after only having one each in 2009 and 2010.
NOTES: Rose won the previous two times he had the 54-hole lead on the European Tour ... Another player struggling with his form over the last several years, 2005 U.S. Open champion Michael Campbell, shot 69 and is tied for eighth at minus-7 ... Martin Kaymer, who was paired with Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods for the first two rounds, birdied three of the last five holes and is tied for 11th at 6-under 210.