DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Victor Dubuisson showed his ability to compete in big tournaments when a sparkling 8-under 64 on Saturday gave him a one-shot lead in the World Tour Championship after three rounds.
The Frenchman’s two European Tour wins so far came at the 2013 and 2015 Turkish Airlines Open – a $7 million Final Series event.
Now 13 under after 54 holes, Dubuisson leads big-hitting Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts (66) and the English duo of Matthew Fitzpatrick (66) and Tyrrell Hatton (67).
”I like to play well in the big tournaments. There is more focus,” Dubuisson said. ”I’d rather win big tournaments than finish in top-10s in smaller ones.”
Overnight joint leader Francesco Molinari (70) was among a group of three players two shots behind Dubuisson. Also at 11-under 205 were England’s Lee Westwood (69) and Spain’s Rafa Cabrera Bello, who shot the best round of the tournament with a 9-under 63.
After the start of the round was delayed by 50 minutes due to early-morning fog, the 26-year-old Dubuisson holed a wedge shot for an eagle two on the par-4 fifth hole, apart from seven birdies. His only blemish of the day came on the par-3 sixth, where he made a bogey.
”It’s my best score to date. I’ve played well, made the good putts at the right time,” said Dubuisson, who improved to No. 93 after a third-placed finish last week in South Africa, his only top 10 on the European Tour in a difficult season.
Fitzpatrick overcame a stretch in the middle where he made a bogey on the ninth and a double bogey on the 13th, while Colsaerts had two eagles in his round that also featured four bogeys.
Defending champion Rory McIlroy shot a 4-under 68 and was frustrated he could not go any lower after a superb round of ball-striking.
McIlroy, who closed with a bogey after hitting his second shot into the water on the par-5 18th, called it ”one of those days.”
He said: ”I think I turned a 62 into a 68 somehow…I hit a lot of good shots and didn’t really hole many putts.”
Race to Dubai leader Henrik Stenson (70) turned it around after being 3 over without a single birdie on the first 11 holes to close with five birdies in his last seven holes.
The Swede improved to 5 under overall and managed to keep his nearest rivals within sight. Compatriot Alex Noren, third in the Race to Dubai, shot a 69 and was two ahead of him, while Danny Willett slipped to tie 51st at 1 over, virtually going out of the race.
”I didn’t get off to a great start I would say, but came back quite nicely,” Stenson said. ”I’ve got to be pretty pleased with the way we managed to play on the way home.”