x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Casey raises his game in Bahrain with a round of 66

Paul Casey moved into a share of the lead at the Volvo Golf Champions tournament in Bahrain yesterday

Paul Casey hit a round of 66 to move into a share of the lead with Peter Hanson in Bahrain yesterday.
Paul Casey hit a round of 66 to move into a share of the lead with Peter Hanson in Bahrain yesterday.

Paul Casey justified his position as the highest-ranked player in the field by moving into a share of the lead at the Volvo Golf Champions in Bahrain yesterday.

Using his power to eagle and birdie the two par fives on the back nine - he was on the green in two at both of them - the world No 9 shot a third-round 66 to join Ryder Cup Swede Peter Hanson on 16 under par.

Victory for the Englishman could make it four Europeans in the top five of the rankings with Lee Westwood, Martin Kaymer and Graeme McDowell currently first, second and fourth.

"It was fun," said Casey. "I had good control of the ball for the first time this week and drove it very nicely.

"It was only one shot lower than the first two days, but a lot more comfortable and probably should have been better." He missed from under six feet on the last.

Casey failed to retain his Ryder Cup spot last year, of course, and went through the season without a win in either Europe or America.

"It's difficult. I'm playing in the best events in the world and I do need to step it up, but I'm not worried about it," he said.

Hanson, one of four halfway leaders, shot a second successive 67 to go with his opening 66 as he and Casey took a one-stroke advantage over Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke and South African James Kingston.

An eagle on the ninth for the second day running was the obvious highlight for Hanson.

It followed birdies on the two previous holes and then came a 35-foot putt for another at the 11th.

"I had high expectations in Abu Dhabi last week, but then went down with the flu," he said. "I still have a bit of a cough, but no fever and I'm very happy how I'm playing.

"It's going to be a tough day, though, and it's all about trying to make as many birdies as you can."

Clarke led the way after an opening 32, but then reeled off eight pars in a row before boosting his hopes of a 13th European Tour title with a closing 14-foot birdie putt.

Miguel Angel Jimenez was back with a putter in his bag after breaking one into two pieces during a second-round moment of anger, but it did not do him much good.

Jimenez made three birdies using a lob-wedge instead, but from a 65 and a share of the second round lead, he slipped back to fifth spot with a 69.

Round of the day was a course record-equalling 64 from 2004 Open champion Todd Hamilton. He had made the cut with only a shot to spare and still had five strokes to make up.