Justin Rose extended his lead at the Abu Dhabi Championship on Saturday, shooting a 4-under 68 to take a two-shot lead over Jamie Donaldson and Thorbjorn Olesen.
A day after top-ranked Rory McIlroy and second-ranked Tiger Woods missed the cut, the fifth-ranked Englishman made his third round look easy with seven birdies. After three-putting on the first for a bogey, Rose had a stretch of six birdies over nine holes — including sinking a 20-footer on No. 5 that gave him back the lead and an approach shot on No. 9 that rolled to 4 feet from the hole for birdie.
"Delighted about the day," said Rose, who has been at the top of the leaderboard all week. "I strengthened my lead, if you like, one to two shots. I guess that’s always good."
Olesen (69) and Donaldson (69) struggled to make putts early but finished with birdies to close the gap. Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee (66) finished with two birdies to move into fourth, three shots behind Rose.
Rose cooled down on the back nine, hitting errant drives on Nos. 13 and 17 that led to bogeys and reduced a four-shot lead to two. After Olesen and Donaldson birdied No. 18, Rose responded by nearly chipping in on the same hole and finished with his seventh birdie that gave him a three-round total of 204.
"I was a little bit mad about the bogey at No. 17 because I didn’t feel I did an awful lot wrong there," Rose said. "I’ve been very resilient and bounced back well."
Olesen and Donaldson struggled to make putts early but finished satisfied to be in the mix coming into Sunday. Olesen hit an approach shot from a sandy rough on 18 that landed a few feet from the pin for a birdie. Donaldson matched him with a clutch putt on 18 for his second birdie in four holes.
"Very happy with the score, 3-under was great," Donaldson said. "A little bit scrappy at the start but (I) recovered really well in places."
Playing alongside Rose, the 52nd-ranked Olesen said he would have to start strong if he was going to overtake the Englishman.
"It looks like he’s playing really well but, if I can get some birdies in quickly, I think it can be exciting," said the 52nd-ranked Dane who is paired with Rose for the final round. "I’m going to try to be aggressive tomorrow. I thought I was pretty aggressive today but I didn’t hole the putts I needed to."
Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee (66) had seven birdies to move into fourth at 207.
Rose’s playing partner Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano of Spain Saturday closed to within a shot of the leader after a birdie on the second. But he had trouble hitting the greens after that and fell back. He showed signs of recovery when he sank a 40-foot putt on the seventh but his drive on No. 16 hit a cart path and bounced into the water for a costly bogey.
Fernandez-Castano finished four shots back and tied for fifth at 208 with Richie Ramsay (67) of Scotland and David Howell (68) of England.