x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Westwood sizes up prize

The Englishman goes into today's final round favourite in a bunched leaderboard at the Dubai Desert Classic.

Lee Westwood lines up a putt yesterday. He is one of four players sharing the lead.
Lee Westwood lines up a putt yesterday. He is one of four players sharing the lead.

DUBAI // A thrilling finish is in prospect at the Dubai Desert Classic today after four players finished yesterday's third round with a share of the lead while another 10 will fancy their chances of capturing the ?300,000 (Dh1.5million) winner's cheque. Lee Westwood probably starts as favourite and his competitors will be mindful of the nerveless way he played on his last visit to this emirate when he romped to a six-stroke victory in the inaugural Dubai World Championship.

His policy then was to shoot the lowest round of the day which he did, a magnificent 64. After clearing up the problems with his equipment over the last two weeks he looks in the mood to turn in another masterful display. However, the Englishman's playing partner in this afternoon's final pairing, Alvaro Quiros, also knows what it takes to win in this region. His booming drives helped secure a resounding three-shot margin in last year's Qatar Masters and, of the title contenders here, he claimed yesterday's bragging rights with the joint best round of the day.

Intriguingly, he was not over pleased with that bogey-free round of 67 and expressed the desire to "hit the ball better" today when he optimistically assessed his prospects. Keeping his compatriot company at the top of the leaderboard on 11 under-par is Miguel Angel Jimenez. The Spaniard recovered impressively to shrug off the deflating effect of falling well off the pace in the first 10 holes to finish strongly and get back to parity with Thongchai Jaidee, the overnight leader,

Jimenez is overdue a Majlis success having gone close here on several occasions, including runners-up finishes to Colin Montgomerie, in 1996, and Ernie Els, in 2005. "Maybe this is my time," he said. wjohnson@thenational.ae