Golf: Sweet and sour pork tastes better to Race to Dubai winner Tommy Fleetwood after moving up the Hong Kong Open leaderboard

Tommy Fleetwood came within two strokes of winning last year's Hong Kong Open.
Tommy Fleetwood came within two strokes of winning last year's Hong Kong Open. PHOTO: AFP

Hong Kong (AFP) - Tommy Fleetwood warned he was not just "here for a party" as he roared back into contention at the Hong Kong Open on Saturday (Nov 25) - just a week after winning the European Tour crown.

Calmer winds and easier pin positions at the Hong Kong Golf Club made for a low-scoring third day that left the leading pack tightly clustered.

Englishman Fleetwood - who won the Tour's annual Race to Dubai title last Sunday (Nov 19) - hit a 66 on the par-70 course on day three to sit on eight under-par 202.

He narrowed the gap to leader SSP Chawrasia from five strokes to two ahead of the final round at the par-70 course in Fanling.

"I played great. It was just a really steady round," said Fleetwood, who received loud cheers from the galleries after finishing with a birdie.

"It makes your sweet and sour pork taste a lot better.

"If we were going to come here, I wanted to make sure that I tried to play well. I wasn't just coming here for a party after winning the Race to Dubai," he added.

Fleetwood came within two strokes of winning last year's Hong Kong Open, setting in motion a remarkable run that saw him gatecrash the world top 20 and ultimately pip Justin Rose to Europe's Order of Merit title.

On Saturday, Rose carded a 68, moving to five-under and five off the lead, but he was disappointed not to have pushed on further.

"I got right there within touch to seven-under, and actually had a putt to go eight-under," said the Olympic champion and world No. 6.

"Maybe I was too greedy or aggressive (on the 16th)... I think to win, you need that one low round. I haven't had that low round yet. I've had solid rounds all week.

"There is one in there. I've just got to figure it out... When there's seven, eight, nine, 10 guys in front of you, you know one of those guys is going to play very well on Sunday (Nov 26). It means you have to have an exceptional round."

Masters champion Sergio Garcia hit a solid 66 including five birdies, but stayed further back on four under for the tournament.

He admitted that a series of missed putts on the back nine had likely left him too far off the pace.

"The way I'm feeling at the moment, probably not," said the Spaniard, when asked whether he expected to challenge on Sunday.

"It's going to be very, very tricky... I just haven't felt comfortable all week for some reason."

Meanwhile overnight leader Chawrasia had a measured round of 69, containing 15 pars to finish at 10-under to hold one-stroke lead from Spain's Rafael Cabrera-Bello and Australia's Wade Ormsby.

Cabrera-Bello, the world No. 20, carded 64 in a round that included six birdies and an eagle. He led last year's edition of the Hong Kong Open for most of the tournament before being pipped by surprise winner Sam Brazel's improbable birdie at a tough 18th hole.

"I think I'm going to be within reach, so I do believe that I can win it for sure," said Cabrera-Bello.

"I think it would be a little extra special, the fact that last year, I finished runner-up. There's still a lot of golf to be played, I can answer that tomorrow if the win happens."

Asked to explain his improved score on Saturday, he joked: "I just told the hole to stay still and find my ball. Today, it listened."