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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 25 June 2018

Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship: Round 3 as it happened 

Coverage of the third round action at Abu Dhabi Golf Club as Ross Fisher pulled level with Thomas Pieters and Rory McIlroy made a big move up the leaderboard.

Ross Fisher birdied the last hole of his third round to ensure he goes into Sunday's final day of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship level with Thomas Pieters. Andrew Redington / Getty Images
Ross Fisher birdied the last hole of his third round to ensure he goes into Sunday's final day of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship level with Thomas Pieters. Andrew Redington / Getty Images

5.35pm Thomas Pieters slid home an eight foot putt to save par on the 18th to retain a share of the lead at 17-under heading into the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, presented by EGA.

Pieters, the overnight leader, maintained his lead throughout the third round and was only caught up by playing partner Ross Fisher at the last. While Pieters claimed even par on 18 to complete a 5-under par round of 67, Fisher tapped in for birdie to sign off on a superb 7-under par round of 65.

Lurking dangerously behind those two is Rory McIlroy, who has thus far made a mockery of claims he could be lacking match fitness following a lengthy injury spell. Instead, the Northern Irishman mixed eight birdies with one bogey to sit solo third on 16-under par for the tournament.

One shot further behind McIlroy is Matthew Fitzpatrick, who shot the round of the day - a 9-under par 63 that saw the Englishman reach the turn having shot seven birdies for a score of 29. A bogey on 16 all but ended Fitzpatrick's hopes of breaking Henrik Stenson's course record of 62, but that will not take any shine away from a sublime round of golf. Read up on his round in John McAuley's story of his round here.

Fitzpatrick is joined on 15-under par by Tommy Fleetwood following another flawless round for the defending champion.

With so many proven winners still in the mix - including world No 1 Dustin Johnson who sits a few back on 12-under - it remains all to play for on the final day in Abu Dhabi.

That is it from us for the day. Please keeping checking The National's website for more reports, as well as news on the tee times for Round 4.

4.50pm The action is over for the third day of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship and there was a late twist to the tale.

Ross Fisher birdied the 18th hole to move level at -17 with Thomas Pieters, who could only par the hole himself, and so the pair will share the lead going into Sunday's final round.

They are one shot ahead of Rory McIlroy who is alone on -16, with Matthew Fitzpatrick and defending champion Tommy Fleetwood both two shots adrift on -15.

There are 16 players covered by five shots at the top of the leaderboard and an exciting final day is in the offing.

4.30pm Rory McIlroy has never won the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship but he has put himself in a strong position to change that statistic on Sunday.

The Northern Irishman finished his third round with a birdie on the 18th to move up to -16 and leave himself in a tie for second place with Ross Fisher.

Thomas Pieters remains ahead of the pack on -17 and he is playing his final hole right now.

Rory McIlroy on the 18th hole at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. He birdied the hole to end the day on -16. Matthew Lewis / Getty Images
Rory McIlroy on the 18th hole at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. He birdied the hole to end the day on -16. Matthew Lewis / Getty Images

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4.10pm Rory McIlroy bounces back from bogeying his first hole of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship at the 15th to hit back with a birdie at the 17th.

The Northern Irishman, who has never won in Abu Dhabi, is now back to -15 and is on the 18th hole.

He is two shots behind leader Thomas Pieters who has regained the outright lead with a birdie on the 16th to go to -17, one ahead of Ross Fisher.

Meanwhile, it had been a day to forget for three-time champion Martin Kaymer until he reached the 18th hole. He was one over for the day, but a big eagle putt gave him lifted to him to a round of 69 and leaves him on -8.

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4.05pm World No 1 Dustin Johnson is in the clubhouse on -12 after a third round of 68 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Not as low a score as others today, with the American just four shots of leaders Thomas Pieters and Ross Fisher he is definitely in contention to win the title tomorrow.

There were sixes birdies in Johnson's round, mixed in with bogies at the first and the 15th holes.

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Dustin Johnson shot 68 on the third day of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. Ross Kinnaird / Getty Images
Dustin Johnson shot 68 on the third day of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. Ross Kinnaird / Getty Images

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4pm A birdie at the 14th has given Ross Fisher a share of the lead at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, presented by EGA, with Thomas Pieters on -16.

The pair both have four holes to play so plenty of time yet for things to change.

Defending champion Tommy Fleetwood has just birdied the 15th to join a group of players, along with Rory McIlroy, on -14.

Matthew Fitzpatrick's work is already done for the day and he is in the clubhouse on -15 after his round of 63.

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3.40pm No eagle for Matthew Fitzpatrick but he does birdie the 18th to finish with a nine-under round of 63, the best of the weekend so far at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

The score propels the Englishman up to -15 and a tie for second place with Ross Fisher, with both men one shot behind leader Thomas Pieters.

Rory McIlroy has dropped his first shot of the tournament at the 15th to fall back to -14.

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3.35pm Matthew Fitzpatrick is on the 18th hole, needing an eagle to equal the course record at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

The Englishman is -14 and eight under for the day going into the hole. He trails leader Thomas Pieters by two shots.

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3.25pm It is as you were still at the front as Thomas Pieters holds the lead in Abu Dhabi on -16 and he has six holes still to play of his third round.

But he will be looking over his shoulder as Rory McIlroy is now joint second after claiming his sixth birdie of the day to move to -15 with four holes still to play. Ross Fisher is also on -15.

A bogey on the 16th has dropped Matthew Fitzpatrick back to -14 and effectively ended the Englishman's hopes of breaking the course record of 62.

He is now -8 for the day with just one hole to play.

Thomas Detry has just finished his round and the Belgian has carded an impressive 64 to be -14.

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3pm Thomas Pieters continues to lead proceedings on the third day of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

The Belgian is -16 after 11 holes today, having picked up four birdies so far.

He remains one shot clear of Matthew Fitzpatrick, who is -9 for the day and another birdie in the remaining three holes of his round would see him equal the course record of 62 set by Henrik Stenson.

Another Belgian Thomas Detry is -8 for the day with one hole to play and he is on -14, along with Rory McIlroy and Alexander Levy.

World No 1 Dustin Johnson remains in contention. He is -3 for the day to be five shots off Pieters.

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2.30pm A par at the 13th for Matthew Fitzpatrick must probably feel like an anti-climax for the Englishman after his birdie spree at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. He remains nine under for the day and in serious contention to either equal or break Henrik Stenson's course of 62.

He remains one behind leader Thomas Pieters, who has gone around the first nine holes of his third round to move to -16.

Alexander Levy and Ross Fisher are both on -14, with a group of five players, which includes Rory McIlroy and Tommy Fleetwood, on -13.

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1.55pm The adventures of Matthew Fitzpatrick go on at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. He has birdied the 10th hole to be -8 under for the day and be -14 at the tournament.

That is still not enough to put the Englishman ahead as Thomas Pieters continues to remain at the top of the leaderboard as a birdie at the sixth hole moves him to -15.

Rory McIlroy is also a man on the move. The Northern Irishman is up -12 and a tie for sixth place after picking up his third birdie of the day at the eighth.

Martin Kaymer's hopes of a fourth Abu Dhabi title have subsided as he +1 for the day after 10 holes and has slipped to -6.

Justin Rose is finished for the third round with a score of 67 leaving him on -7 overall, while Matt Kuchar is on -5 with one round remaining.

Justin Rose finished his third round in Abu Dhabi in a round of 67. Ross Kinnaird / Getty Images
Justin Rose finished his third round in Abu Dhabi in a round of 67. Ross Kinnaird / Getty Images

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1.25pm Are we going to see a new course record at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship today? Matthew Fitzpatrick has shot 29 on the front nine to surge to 13-under par for the tournament.

The Englishman hit seven birdies and two pars during his remarkable start to his third round. Record currently stands at 62 and belongs to Henrik Stenson (2006).

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1.20pm It's all a bit bunched up at the top of the leaderboard in Abu Dhabi. Thomas Pieters has so far proven he can comfortably carry the burden of being overnight leader, going 2-under in his first three holes to move to 14-under.

Right behind the Belgian is England's Ross Fisher, who is maintaining a similarly relentless pace by shooting birdies in three of his first four holes to sit one behind Pieters.

Then there are five players who lurk just one shot further back, all of whom are going strong - none more so than Matthew Fitzpatrick. The Englishman has hit a stunning seven birdies from his first nine holes. Also on 11-under is defending champion Tommy Fleetwood, fellow Englishman Andrew Johnston, France's Alexander Levy, and Spaniard Jorge Campillo.

Former world No 1 - and four-time Abu Dhabi runner-up - Rory McIlroy is right in the mix, too, at 10-under. World No 1 Dustin Johnson is 9-under.

Matthew Fitzpatrick has birdied seven of the first nine holes at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. Andrew Redington / Getty Images
Matthew Fitzpatrick has birdied seven of the first nine holes at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. Andrew Redington / Getty Images

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1.05pm There is no doubt who the man of the day so far has been at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Matthew Fitzpatrick is clearly enjoying life at Abu Dhabi Golf Club as he has birdied six of the first eight holes to rocket up the leaderboard to be -12 and two shots behind leader Thomas Pieters.

Remember the course record is 62 from Henrik Stenson. That could well be under threat if Fitzpatrick keeps his level of play up.

The problem that Fitzpatrick and the field have is the target at the front is a moving one as Pieters has continued where he left off yesterday.

He has birded the second and third holes to move up to -14, and he is one clear of Ross Fisher.

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12.45pm After being out on his own at the top of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship leaderboard for the past 24 hours, Thomas Pieters, at least briefly, had company at the head of the field.

Defending champion Tommy Fleetwood and Andrew Johnston have both moved to -12, but Pieters quickly responded with a birdie at the second hole to go ahead outright again on -13.

Matthew Fitzpatrick has had a superb start to his round and is five under after seven holes to be -11 for the tournament.

Rory McIlroy is also in contention, he is -10 for the tournament after four holes, having picked up one birdie so far.

Rory McIlroy is -1 after four holes of his third round at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. Andrew Redington / Getty Images
Rory McIlroy is -1 after four holes of his third round at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. Andrew Redington / Getty Images

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12.25pm Business is beginning to pick up as Andrew Johnston has begun with three successive birdies to move to -11 and be one shot of leader Thomas Pieters.

Bernd Wiesberger is also on -11 after he picked up shots at the first two holes, and defending champion Tommy Fleetwood is also on the same score as he birdied the first hole.

Rory McIlroy is upto -10 after getting a birdie at the first, and Branden Grace has joined him on that score too.

Pieters has now teed off with Jorge Campillo and Ross Fisher so every group is now out on the course.

It should be an exciting next few hours, with 20 players within four shots of the top spot.

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12pm World No 1 Dustin Johnson recovered quickly from a bogey on the first to birdie the second and return to eight-under par at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

The American, runner-up on his Abu Dhabi debut last year, went on a charge yesterday, shooting a flawless round which included eight birdies to climb up the leaderboard.

Johnson is four shots behind overnight leader Thomas Pieters, who tees off in the final group at 12.05pm.

Defending champion Tommy Fleetwood has just tied teed off in the penultimate group, and he had warmed up beforehand.

Elsewhere, Matthew Fitzpatrick is a man on the move as three birdies in the first four holes have him -9 and in a tie for sixth place.

Mikko Ilonen has set the early standard for the others to follow. The Finn went around in a five under 67, and he is -7 for the tournament now, with one round to play.

Dustin Johnson has begun his third round at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. Andrew Redington / Getty Images
Dustin Johnson has begun his third round at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. Andrew Redington / Getty Images

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11.35am It is 30 minutes to go until leader Thomas Pieters tees off in the final group of the day at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Most of the field has now commenced their third round, and Fabrizio Zanotti has made a good start. A birdie at the first has the Paraguayan, who is playing alongside world No 1 Dustin Johnson and Martin Kaymer, upto -9 and three shots off Pieters.

Matthew Fitzpatrick has birdied his first two holes to move upto -8.

Rory McIlroy has just finished warming up as the Northern Irishman, who is -9, tees off in 10 minutes.

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11.10am Finland's Mikko Ilonen is the pick of the early movers having shot four-under par after 13 holes of his third round to climb to six-under par for the tournament.

Ilonen, the world No 332, claimed birdies on 4, 5, 12 and 13 to climb 35 places on the leaderboard.

England's Jordan Smith is also going nicely, mixing four birdies with one bogey in his first 10 holes to move to five-under.

Meanwhile, Henrik Stenson has birdied his first hole to go to -7. The Swede has never won in Abu Dhabi and needs a big round today if he is to change that statistic.

Further back, Matt Kuchar is now -4 for the tournament after getting a birdie at the 10th, while playing partner Justin Rose is having a frustrating time of things and remains -1 for the day and -3 overall.

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10.25am We are now more than two hours into the third day at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship and so far no-one has made a big move up the leaderboard.

The pairing of Justin Rose, Matt Kuchar and Rafa Cabrera-Bello has had the most interest from spectators.

Kuchar made a slow start with a bogey at the third, but birdies at the seventh and eighth holes have the American upto -3 for the tournament, level with Rose, who is also -1 for the day.

Cabrera-Bello is not having such a good time of it. He is +4 for the day after eight holes, and +2 for the tournament, with a double bogey on the par-three seventh doing the damage.

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9.50am Conditions appear to be looking good for another day of low-scoring at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, presented by EGA. Well, at least they do for Sweden's Joakim Lagergren.

Three birdies in a row between the second and fourth holes has moved him to -5 and part of a large group of players tied for 27th spot.

Lagergren still has a lot of work to do to get in contention for victory, being seven shots adrift of leader Thomas Pieters, who tees off in the final group at 12.05pm.

Mikko Ilonen is -2 for the day, while European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn is also among the early starters and he has birdied the par-three fourth hole to move to -3 for the tournament.

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9.20am Fairly quiet on the course at present as the opening groups look to try and move themselves up the leaderboard at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Finn Mikko Ilonen is the early man to watch as birdies as birdies at the third and fourth have moved him up to -4 for the tournament.

Justin Rose, the 2013 US Open champion, has picked up a birdie at the second hole to go to -3, while Matt Kuchar has just bogeyed the third to fall to -1.

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8.30am Good morning! Welcome to coverage of the third round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, presented by EGA.

Play has been underway since 8am when opening group Soren Kjeldsen and Mikko Ilonen teed off.

Justin Rose and Matt Kuchar, who both needed to sink birdie putts on the 18th yesterday to avoid missing the cut are also now out on the course, having teed off with Rafa Cabrera Bello at 8.20am.

Things are nicely set up at the front of the field, with the top 20 players covered by just five shots.

Leader Thomas Pieters, who is on -12, tees off at 12.05pm alongside Jorge Campillo and Ross Fisher.

Pieters credited positive thinking for his strong performance on Friday and he will need more of that today.

Defending champion Tommy Fleetwood, who is two behind Pieters is off at 11.55am, with Rory McIlroy heads out at 11.45am.

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Read more

Marquee trio of Fleetwood, McIlroy and Johnson live up to hype at HSBC Abu Dhabi Golf Championship

Paul Casey wants to match Martin Kaymer as a hat-trick winner of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship: Round 2 as it happened

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The most intriguing group, and one guaranteed to have a big crowd following it, is the trio of world No 1 Dustin Johnson, three-time Abu Dhabi winner Martin Kaymer and Fabrizio Zanotti. They tee off at 11.15am.

The full list of tee times for Round 3 are available here.