Rafael Cabrera-Bello and Steve Webster share the lead heading into the final round of the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters after contrasting performances yesterday.
Cabrera-Bello started the day with a two-shot lead and extended his advantage thanks to a birdie on the second, but dropped two shots in the last six holes to card a disappointing 73.
In contrast, Webster started poorly and was two over par after five holes before playing the remaining 13 in four under to return a 70 and join Cabrera-Bello on 12 under par.
“That wasn’t pretty,” admitted Webster, who started the tournament with an albatross on his very first hole on Wednesday.
“I don’t know what happened the first six or seven holes.
“I hit it really well on the range and I think I got a bit cocky on the course and hit so many bad shots the first six or seven holes; it was like I had never played golf before.”
Webster was six shots off the pace after his poor start but picked up shots on the seventh, 11th, 14th and 15th to boost his chances of a third European Tour title.
“On the back nine I gave myself a few chances and I knocked in a really good putt on 11 which made things feel a little better,” the 38-year-old Midlander added.
“But the pins were tucked away a bit and that’s why the scores have pretty much stayed the way they were.”
Cabrera-Bello, who was fourth behind fellow Spaniard Pablo Larrazabal in Abu Dhabi last week, said: “It was a tougher day, things did not go as great as they have been so far.
“I still feel as though I played okay, I just did not manage to score as well.
“It was tough with the wind, I didn’t quite make the putts and struggled here and there with my chipping, but overall I got the not-so-good round out of the way and I am still in a fantastic position going into Saturday.”
The best round of the day by some distance belonged to France’s Adrien Saddier, the world No 720 shooting a flawless 64 in just his fourth European Tour event as a professional.
That was four shots better than anyone else and lifted the 21-year-old qualifying school graduate 42 places up the leaderboard into a share of third on 11 under, alongside Denmark’s Thorbjorn Olesen and South African Thomas Aiken.
Seventeen players are within four shots of the lead, including Malton’s Simon Dyson, whose 71 yesterday left him on eight under par.
Twice Qatar winner Paul Lawrie is two shots better off on 10 under with his Ryder Cup team-mate Sergio Garcia on nine under.
Lawrie, who won in Qatar in 1999 ahead of his Open triumph at Carnoustie, and again in 2012, carded a 69 thanks largely to three birdies in four holes around the turn, while the highlight of Garcia’s 69 was an eagle from 40 feet on the 10th.
Sheffield’s Danny Willett carded a 70 yesterday and began the final round on three under par.