Abu Dhabi: Justin Rose consolidated his lead in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship on Saturday firing a 68 to take a two-stroke advantage into the final round.
The 32-year-old English world No.5 is at 12-under for the tournament after three rounds, one clear of Dane Thorbjorn Olesen and Welshman Jamie Donaldson who both came in with 69s.
Thailand's Thongchai Jaidee was alone at nine under after a 66 with England's David Howell (68), Richie Ramsay of Scotland (67) and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano of Spain (71) a further shot back.
With tournament favourites Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods absent, having missed the cut, Rose is the top-ranked player left in the field and a win at his first attempt here would be the perfect start to the season for him.
Leading by one overnight at eight-under, Rose bogeyed the first.
He then fell into a four-way tie for the lead after a few holes alongside Donaldson, Fernandez-Castano and Olesen.
But in perfect playing conditions, Rose accelerated with five birdies in six holes from the fourth to move three strokes clear of the field at 12 under.
Another birdie followed at the 12th where he hit his approach to three feet and at four clear, he looked capable at that stage of running away with the tournament.
Playing in the group directly in front, Olesen, tipped by many to break into the world top 20 this year, and Donaldson tried hard to hang onto the Englishman's coat-tails and they were given some encouragement when Rose had his first bogey of the day at the 13th.
The door opened further shortly after when Rose dropped another shot at the 17th and Olesen almost holed his approach to the 18th for a closing birdie, matched by Donaldson.
The lead was suddenly down to one stroke, but Rose feathered his cushion with an approach to one foot at the last for birdie.
Story first published on: Saturday, 19 January 2013 19:58 IST