Abu Dahbi. Lee Is Still The Leader. January 18 2014
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Craig stayed ahead of the field at the conclusion of the third round at the Abu Dahbi Golf Club, scoring a -3 under par round of 69, giving him a -12 under par total.
Craig is very excited, but has good reason to mention the quality of players chasing him down;
"It's exciting, the quality of the players behind me is nothing I have been used to before. I can't control what they are going to do, I just have to go out and play the best I can. I can look back on last year when Jamie Donaldson won holding off the likes of Justin Rose and say it's possible and fairy-tales do happen."
One of those quality players is Phil Mickleson, who is now sharing second place after his fantastic third round, a -9 under par 63 which saw him climb up the leaderboard with a tournament total of -10 under par. Phil is sharing that spot with Ganjeet Bhullar, who like Craig is seeking his first tour win.
Phil and his driver finally delivered the goods, and his score could easily have been better, he carded two bogey's in that round, and of course made a birdie from a waste area, in typical Phil style. He played it out of the waste stuff, landed it on the green and then sunk the 30 foot putt at the par five;
"It was not a smart decision out of the bunker to go for the green, but I don't know, that's just what I do. Bones (his caddie Jim Mackay) did not like the decision and I don't blame him, it wasn't probably my smartest play. I hit a terrible shot but because it was sitting on a fairly hard, packed lie, I was able to go in steep and keep it low underneath the trees and I had plenty of green to work with."
"I will still be back a few shots, I anticipate, heading into tomorrow's round but I love the fact that I'm in contention and I have an opportunity to win here in the first week of the year. What I like is that it feels better each day. The first day, I felt terrible. The second day, half of it started to come around and today it started to feel pretty good and hopefully I'll be able to build on it again tomorrow."
Ganjeet is also playing well and is looking forward to competing with the big names on Sunday;
“Ever since I've arrived here, I've been striking the ball really good, I knew that I could go low, and thankfully today was one of my lucky days. I had a lot of good breaks, putted really well and gave myself a lot of opportunities of making birdies and I guess at the end of the day I'm quite happy with 66. Last year I got paired up with a lot of the big names in the world and it was quite good. You get to learn a lot of new stuff about yourself, about the game, and I think it will be one of those enjoyable Sundays.”
These two would not have been in second place, Rory McIlroy was reported by Dave Renwick, caddie to his playing partner Ricardo Gonzalez, of a possible infraction. He felt Rory had not taken full relief from a spectator crossing on the second hole and when video evidence proved inconclusive, Rory and European Tour Chief Referee John Paramor headed back to the par five to examine the area in question. It was then determined that Rory's left foot had been touching the white line denoting the crossing and a two shot penalty was applied. What nonsense, if the video was inconclusive, that should have been the end of the matter.
Rory, now three shots back instead of one, explained;
"I hit my second shot on the second into the left rough but on the spectator crosswalk. I took a drop and played my shot but I did not notice my left foot was still on the line and you need to take full relief. We went out to see it again and see my divot and it was clear I could not have played my shot with my feet anywhere else. It's unfortunate. If anything it was a disadvantage because I dropped it in a bad lie and did not make birdie.I have to try to make up the shots as early as possible tomorrow. It gives me a bit of extra motivation."