Chasing pack ready to storm sole leader Stuart Manley

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 07 December, 2013, 10:48pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 07 December, 2013, 10:48pm

It's going to be a right royal bun-fight today at the Hong Kong Open in Fanling. Welshman Stuart Manley might have the sole lead going into the final round but there are 13 others within touching distance of him using a very conservative yardstick of taking into account only those who are four shots behind the leader.

No wonder former champion Jose Manuel Lara, two behind Manley, wished for more spunky conditions rather than the not-a-leaf-moving benign weather, which has blessed the 55th edition of Hong Kong's oldest professional sporting event.

While title sponsors might have frowned upon this tournament this year, mother nature has smiled on it.

I got really unlucky and that one was stiff. But the good thing was that I bounced back immediately on the 17th with a birdie
Stuart Manley

"Yes, I would prefer for some wind as that will make it tougher out there. Maybe there will be some wind tomorrow," wished Lara, a winner here in 2006 and who is pinning his hopes on another triumph, so that he can get his European Tour card back.

Lara and another age-old regular at the Hong Kong Golf Club, defending champion Miguel Angel Jimenez, who is also two behind on eight-under 202, will not mind a shift in conditions for they know every blade of grass on the par-70 Fanling course.

Lara has played here since 2001 and Jimenez - going for a record-equalling fourth crown - has turned out since 2004.

Manley, however, is appearing for the first time and he has revelled having carded scores of 67, 67 and yesterday's 66 to aggregate 10-under 200, enough to take a one-shot lead.

"It will be the same approach tomorrow. I have been hitting it right down the pin and I'm not going to change anything," Manley said.

"The first two rounds were the same, and I've been going for every hole, I'm not going to change my approach, I'm loving it at the moment."

It would have been even better for the 34-year-old from Rhondaa Cynon Taf if he had not been dealt an unkind hand on the 16th hole when his approach shot to the green hit a sprinkler head and bounced many metres away from the pin leaving him a monster putt for birdie. He ended three-putting to collect his second bogey for the day.

"I got really unlucky and that one was stiff," said Manley.

"But the good thing was that I bounced back immediately on the 17th with a birdie."

That gave him a one-shot lead over Australian Wade Ormsby and Shiv Kapur of India both on nine-under 201.

"My game feels good, made a lot of birdies out there today," said Ormsby who rolled in seven birdies.

"I will just keep doing what I'm doing on the final day, and try to get myself in the mix and if all things go to plan, I should be near enough."

Kapur, who last won on the Asian Tour in 2005, had an error-free round including four birdies.

A further stroke adrift were Spaniards Jimenez and Lara and England's Steve Webster, all on eight-under 202.

A winner in 2004, 2007 and 2012, Jimenez saw his day spoiled by a double-bogey at the 15th hole thanks to a wayward drive.

"I'm hitting the ball well and I'm pleased. One more round to go and I'm just a couple of shots behind," said Jimenez who then revealed he will go through his usual routine of having a bottle of red wine, a nice dinner and a good cigar as he prepares for another assault on the title.