SHENZHEN, China (AP) — Brendan Jones made a 4-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole Saturday, giving Australia a 9-under 63 and a share of the lead with Spain after the third round of the World Cup of Golf.
Miguel Angel Jimenez and Pablo Larrazabal of Spain, who held a four-stroke lead after two rounds, settled for a 67. Jimenez missed a 6-foot putt for birdie on the final hole, which would have kept Spain in the outright lead.
Both teams were 22-under 194.
Jones and teammate Richard Green have thrived in the fourball style of play. On Thursday they also shot a 63 in fourball. Sunday’s final, however, will be played in foursomes (alternate shot). Spain shot a blistering 63 on Friday playing that format.
In foursomes, teams play one ball and alternate the shots. Fourball is easier because each golfer plays his own ball, but the team only counts the best of the two scores on each hole.
In foursomes, teams play one ball and alternate the shots. Four ball is easier because each golfer plays his own ball, but the team only counts the best of the two scores on each hole.
Robert Karlsson and Henrik Stenson of Sweden, the two highest ranked players in the event, shot 66 and are four strokes off the lead. Germany was another stroke back after a 68. Ireland (68) trailed by seven and the United States (69) and Japan (68) were eight behind.
Australia pulled even with Spain on the 15th with an eagle. Jones landed his 180-yard approach – using a 9-iron – and then holed his 5-foot putt.
“I actually got some chills up the back of my spine when the crowd sort of thought it was a pretty decent shot and they all cheered,” said Jones, who plays primarily on the Japan tour. “I would have been very, very disappointed to have missed that putt.”
Playing in the same group, Jimenez found water on the hole and settled for a bogey – Larrazabal also bogeyed – to level the two teams at 21 under.
Spain also had a bogey on the hole on Friday, the only blemish on a great round.
“Tomorrow we won’t play that hole,” Jimenez joked. “From 14 we’ll go to 16.”
Spain went to 22-under with a birdie on 16.
The Spaniards had their own eagle when Jimenez holed a 50-yard wedge on No. 7, which gave them a three-stroke cushion over Australia after a slow start.
“We are still leading,” Jimenez said. “So we know if we play like yesterday we are going to win the tournament. So that’s all.”
Jones said the tournament was getting little coverage in Australia with John Daly and the Australian Masters hogging the headlines. He said one report back home identified his family name as “James” instead of “Jones.”
Australia has five players ranked in the top 50 – led by No. 14 Geoff Ogilvy and No. 17 Adam Scott. They all passed on the event, with No. 59 Green and No. 64 Jones taking the invitation.
“You know, we have got something to prove to the press back home,” Jones said. “We might not be the most famous of the Australian players, but we are backing our ability.”
Spain has won the World Cup four times – the last in 1984 with Jose Maria Canizares and Jose Rivero. Australia has also won four, the last in 1989 with Peter Fowler and Wayne Grady.