DUBAI — Victor Dubuisson showed why he is considered one of the finest young talents in golf, the Frenchman conjuring up a magical eight-under par 64 to go one shot clear in the DP World Tour Championship Saturday.
Dubuisson’s third round featured an eagle and seven birdies on a day when play was delayed 50 minutes because of fog.
It has been a difficult year for the 26-year-old, who slumped out of the top-100 in the world rankings before rediscovering his form last week in the Nedbank Challenge in South Africa, where he finished tied third.
Dubuisson, with a 13-under par total of 203, goes into the final round chased by English duo Matthew Fitzpatrick and Tyrrell Hatton, and Belgium’s Nicolas Colsaerts.
Fitzpatrick and Colsaerts shot 66 each and Hatton 67 to reach 12-under par.
In the other battle that is going on concurrently with the season-ending championship — for the Race to Dubai honours — Sweden’s Henrik Stenson fought back with five birdies in his last seven holes after being three-over on the 12th tee.
Stenson’s 70 took him to five-under par for the tournament, just two shots behind the third-ranked Alex Noren (69), but his closest challenger, England’s Danny Willett, slipped to tied 51st after a disappointing round of 76.
The fourth player in the fray, defending champion Rory McIlroy, shot a frustrating four-under par 68, which included a disappointing closing bogey when he pulled his four-iron second shot from 207 yards into the water guarding the par-5 18th hole.
Stenson, who needs to finish inside the top-eight if Noren finishes second on his own, said: “It was all going backwards at one stage, and I got angry when my chip on the 14th hole did not finish close.
”Sometimes, it is good to get angry because I started scoring and making my putts from then.”
A disappointed McIlroy shrugged: “I think I turned a 62 into a 68 somehow. It was one of those days. I hit a lot of good shots and didn’t really hole many putts.”
On a golf course where he has already finished second and third Dubuisson was hopeful of winning a third Final Series event, having already won the Turkish Airlines Open twice.
”It’s just a course I like. It’s long. You have to carry the ball long. It’s target golf after that. But the long game is very important, and then the putting. I just like the way it sets up,” said the Frenchman.
”I like playing in big tournaments. It helps me focus better.”
Colsaerts was happy to get into contention with two eagles in his round, but rued the mistakes he made with four bogeys.
After sinking a 20-feet eagle putt on the 18th, the big-hitting Belgian said: “A grandstand finish on the last is always nice, but it’s the same scenario again: I go from shooting myself in the foot with a couple of three-putts, missing short ones again, and then I play a game that’s probably nine out of ten, all the parts of the game.”
Fitzpatrick’s round contained an eagle on the seventh hole and he was six-under par after just eight holes before he made a bogey on the ninth and a double on the 13th.