Cabrera Bello scents end to long win drought

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Ry­der Cup star Rafa Cabrera Bello re­cov­ered from a late stum­ble to re­tain a share of the Hong Kong Open lead and move within sight of his first vic­tory in four years yes­ter­day.

The Spa­niard leads along­side Aus­tralia’s Sam Brazel on 11-un­der-par 199 af­ter sur­viv­ing a dou­ble bo­gey on the par-four 14th by birdieing two of his last four holes for level-par 70.

Eng­land’s Tommy Fleet­wood fired three­un­der-par 67 to lie in sole sec­ond spot with an ag­gre­gate score of 201, one stroke bet­ter than Amer­ica’s David Lip­sky who shot 66. Cabrera Bello, a bright spot in Europe’s Ry­der Cup de­feat in Oc­to­ber, is bid­ding to join fel­low Spa­niards Jose Maria Olaz­a­bal, Miguel An­gel Jimenez and Jose Manuel Lara as a Hong Kong win­ner.

“I had a tough day,” said Cabrera Bello, who has topped the leader­board af­ter all three rounds fol­low­ing his 64 and 65 on Thur­day and Fri­day at Fan­ling.

“I didn’t find my rhythm so well, I didn’t find the seren­ity I had played with the first cou­ple of days, so I strug­gled with bo­geys and birdies.”

But the 32-year-old, who has been wait­ing for his third Euro­pean Tour win since the 2012 Dubai Desert Clas­sic, said he would be calm head­ing into the last day.

“I’ve been joint leader or lead­ing by my­self many times, look­ing for that third win,” he said. “So it’s a very com­mon po­si­tion for me. I’m just con­fi­dent.”

Brazel, the world num­ber 480, shot 67 to be­come a challenger for what would be by far the big­gest vic­tory of his ca­reer. He said keep­ing his nerves in check would be key to­day.

“I’m go­ing to try and con­trol the nerves bet­ter than I did... and just en­joy it, en­joy the at­mos­phere of it all and take it all in, it’s been fun,” he told re­porters.

Brazel, whose part­ner died sud­denly from bac­te­rial menin­gi­tis in 2009, said win­ning the Hong Kong Open would “mean the world” to him.

Fleet­wood said an ea­gle on the par-five 13th had got his “juices flow­ing” as he also aims to end a long win drought.

The 25-year-old English­man has not won on the Euro­pean Tour since clinch­ing the 2013 John­nie Walker Cham­pi­onship at Gle­nea­gles. “I haven’t won for a long time, I had a year out of the game re­ally-I was play­ing dread­ful from mid-2015 to mid-this year-so I’ve sort of be­ing on a path since Au­gust get­ting my game back,” he said.

Last year’s win­ner Justin Rose ad­mit­ted he had “no prospects” of vic­tory as he shot 70 to lie one-un­der for the tour­na­ment, where he is strug­gling to re­cover from a back in­jury. Else­where, US Mas­ters cham­pion Danny Wil­lett was six off the lead af­ter a for­get­table round of 71 marked by four bo­geys on the back nine. Fel­low English­man David How­ell equalled the course record of 63 to lie four shots back from the lead­ers in a tie for fifth place. —AFP

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kuwait

© PressReader. All rights reserved.