Sunday’s crowds at Abu Dhabi Golf Club can expect a thrilling finale as the tightest Championship in memory goes down to the wire. Another five players – including Super Swede Henrik Stenson and past Abu Dhabi champion Robert Rock – are just one shot behind the leaders on nine under.
World number one Jordan Spieth and three times Abu Dhabi champion Martin Kaymer, at seven under, will fancy their final day chances, while American amateur Bryson DeChambeau is still in the mix, also at seven under.
Englishman Andy Sullivan, who led for much of the day, will be wishing the horn sounded 10 minutes earlier, as a triple bogey on the 9th – his last hole of the day – dropped him back to the group at nine under.
Early morning fog delayed the start of play, with second round matches still to be finished. But by the afternoon, the Abu Dhabi sun was blazing and the bumper third day crowds were treated to a feast of birdies. The best third round play of the day came from Belgian Thomas Pieters, whose seven under after 15 holes took him to nine under for the Championship and a share of second place.
Thousands of fans took part in ‘Dress in Red’ day, which allowed free entry to the event for everyone wearing Championship colours – and they were joined by the world’s number three Rory McIlroy whose red trousers were just as eye-catching as his golf. Rory completed his second round with a birdie on 17 and an eagle on 18, then kept rattling in the putts in his third round to end the day at 10-under, with nine holes still to play.
“I said, let's finish three-three and I was able to,” McIlroy said of his fantastic second round finish. “I don't know if I should say that to myself on the first tee, okay, let's have 18 threes here!”
Bryson DeChambeau kept his dreams alive, finishing his second round at eight under, and dropping a single stroke in the afternoon to finish the day at seven under, after nine holes. He was buoyed by a strong American presence among the thousands of fans lining the fairways, who were happy to embrace a surprise new hero for the Championship.
“Support from the US is awesome always, especially being your home country,” he said. “It's great. I love the guys, I love signing autographs and having fun with them.”
Fans were treated to more than the golf, however, as the fun continued for the third day in the Championship Village. Ten-time LPGA Tour event winner Paula Creamer saddled up and rode Shaheen the camel in front of a crowd of delighted fans. Shaheen is no stranger to celebrity golfers, having taken American poster boy and world number six Rickie Fowler for his first camel ride in 2015.
“I’m glad I got to ride the camel as it was one of the things my mum said I must do while I’m here in Abu Dhabi,” commented Creamer.
The day saw families, friends and children of all ages take on golf, basketball and triathlon activities in the Abu Dhabi Sports Council sports zone and HSBC Fan Zone areas, and relaxing at the HSBC Beach Club.
Retired British tennis ace Tim Henman, an HSBC ambassador, said: “The turnout has been amazing with brilliant crowds. I’ve always enjoyed the tournament and with all the different types of games and activities in the Championship Village and HSBC Fan Zone, it’s a great day out for families with young kids.”
The Championship will start at 7.40am on Sunday, for players to finish their third rounds, and organisers expect to complete the fourth round during the afternoon. Fans will be anticipating a gripping day of golf!