Shubhankar Sharma lying T12 in Hong Kong Open

A third round 67 helped Shubhankar Sharma move into T12 at the Hong Kong Open. Aaron Rai has a six-stroke advantage over Tommy Fleetwood and Matthew Fitzpatrick

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European Tour Release, 24 November 2018: A committed Shubhankar Sharma fired a brilliant 67 on Saturday to tighten his grip over the Asian Tour Order of Merit. The Indian made five birdies and two bogeys in the third round. Khalin Joshi (73) and Viraj Madappa (71) slipped over par, ending the day at 2-over 212. Ajeetesh Sandhu (70) and Shiv Kapur (67) were tied in 34th place at 3-under par. Arjun Atwal was four under after a 68 in the third round.

Aaron Rai restored his four-shot advantage as the third round of the Honma Hong Kong Open presented by Amundi neared its conclusion.

Aaron Rai at the Hong Kong Open
Aaron Rai at the Hong Kong Open

The Englishman began the day four strokes clear of nearest rival Hyowon Park after breaking the course record at Hong Kong Golf Club with a blemish-free 61 on Friday.

But Rai’s lead had been reduced to a single shot by the time he reached the turn on Saturday, as South Korean Park carded four birdies and one bogey on his front nine to close the gap.

Three-time Challenge Tour winner Rai fired a birdie at the fourth before carding his first bogey of the week at the difficult ninth hole to remain at 14 under after nine holes.

He bounced straight back from that dropped shot with a birdie from tap-in range at the tenth before holing his 22-foot birdie putt at the 12th to get to 16 under.

And with Park dropping a shot at the 11th, Rai’s lead was back to four strokes.

Shubhankar Sharma made a total of 31 putts and hit 9/14 fairways as well as 15/18 greens.

“It’s not too bad, if you look at the scoreboard. But it really could have been better than this.  Yesterday I was five-under through 13 holes total for the tournament and didn’t really finish too well,” explained Shubhankar. “Even today I felt like I left a few shots out there but six-under is still not a bad position, and a low one tomorrow can really help me.

“There’s obviously an opportunity to extend my merit lead. But if I just look at the tournament, I’ll take the top-10 right now.  I really want to shoot a low one tomorrow and play well tomorrow and do the right things. The Order of Merit is obviously on my mind, but we can only see what happens by the end.”

Matthew Fitzpatrick joined Park in a tie for second on 12 under courtesy of a birdie at the 12th before the South Korean made back-to-back bogeys at the 13th and 14th to slip back to ten under alongside Tommy Fleetwood.

After getting into tree trouble off the tee at the 14th, Rai made a brilliant par save from eight feet to keep hold of his four-shot lead with four holes left to play.

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