Lucas Bjerregaard turns up pressure on Justin Rose at Hong Kong Open

Published: Saturday 24th October 2015 by The News Editor

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Denmark’s Lucas Bjerregaard has the chance to banish the memories of the worst day of his career after staging a thrilling duel with world number seven Justin Rose in the UBS Hong Kong Open.

Rose began the third round with a one-shot lead and carded two eagles and two birdies in a flawless 64, but saw playing partner Bjerregaard go one better with a 63 marred by a solitary bogey on the 18th.

That left the pair on 15 under par and four shots clear of India’s Anirban Lahiri, with fellow Indian Jeev Milkha Singh and England’s Matt Fitzpatrick a shot further back.

The last time Bjerregaard was in the final group in the fourth round was in December’s Alfred Dunhill Championship, when he collapsed to a closing 89 – including a back nine of 50 – to slump from second to 49th.

” I really have to give a lot of credit to my caddie Todd,” Bjerregaard said.

“He’s really good at keeping me grounded and lightening the mood if I get too serious or nerves start showing up, he’s really good at helping me with that. But it is still Saturday. Tomorrow is the day where it all comes to an end.”

Rose scrambled a par on the first after a wild drive and left his birdie putt on the next three feet short, but made amends on the par-five third with a drive of more than 350 yards and an excellent approach setting up an eagle chance he converted from 25 feet.

That briefly took the Ryder Cup star into a two-shot lead until playing partner Bjerregaard, who had birdied the third, also picked up a shot on the fourth.

Bjerregaard moved into a share of the lead after a tap-in birdie on the sixth and matched Rose’s birdie on the 10th, the former US Open champion having driven the green on the 280-yard par four with a three wood and two-putting for the simplest of birdies.

Further birdies on the 11th and 12th took Bjerregaard two clear and the 24-year-old made it four in a row on the par-five 13th, but still saw his lead cut in half as Rose amazingly holed from 50 feet for his second eagle of the day.

Rose then holed from five feet for birdie on the 14th before Bjerregaard retook the lead on the 16th, only to card his sole bogey of the day on the last after his approach ran up against the collar of rough at the back of the green.

“It was great. I really enjoyed it out there with Justin,” said Bjerregaard, who was ninth in the Portugal Masters last week. “H e’s a really good guy and we kept making birdies, especially around the turn.

“I lost track of how many we were under for the day coming down the stretch here. We pretty much played against each other out there. I’m really looking forward to tomorrow and hope it’s going to be more of the same.”

Pre-tournament favourite Rose was impressed by Bjerregaard but also by his own ability to save par at some crucial points during the round.

” Lucas played unbelievable golf today,” Rose said. “I actually didn’t know much about his game and he can really play.

“I hung with him and what impressed me today was the couple of par saves that I had to make. I didn’t play the first hole particularly well but made a nice 15-foot putt for par there and then eagling the third kind of got me up and running.

“It was just a really fun day playing with Lucas and flip-flopping birdies and eagles and really stretching away from the field.”

Lahiri, who has already won twice this season and was fifth in the US PGA Championship, birdied five of his last nine holes to edge ahead of Fitzpatrick, his closest rival to be named European Tour rookie of the year.

Fitzpatrick, who won the British Masters at Woburn a fortnight ago, had raced to the turn in 30 but also dropped his only shot of the day on the 18th in a round of 66.

Ian Poulter, who made a last-minute journey from Orlando to play this week and maintain his European Tour membership, saw his chances of victory disappear with three bogeys in his last five holes and a 73 which left him 11 shots off the pace.

Poulter wrote on Twitter: “Sorry guys tank was empty… Really gutted. I guess that was always a risk. Slipped thru my fingers and I couldn’t hold on.”

Published: Saturday 24th October 2015 by The News Editor

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