Golf: Wu celebrates Chinese New Year by leading pack in Dubai

Wu in action during the third round. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

DUBAI (AFP) - An opening eagle and four birdies lifted China's Wu Ashun into a one shot lead after Saturday's (Jan 25) Dubai Desert Classic third round, the perfect way to celebrate the Chinese New Year of the rat.

His five-under 67 after two 69s left him the man to beat with an 11-under par total of 205.

After his opening hole heroics when his approach from the rough hit the front of the green to roll into the cup Wu said: "That's my 'Happy Chinese New Year Shot'."

"Today, my short game was great, just great. I got a feeling just good chips and good with the putter.

"I'm very comfortable and very relaxed for the weekend and playing the final round. I'm always happy to play the final round in the final group."

The 34-year-old Wu's maiden European Tour triumph came on home soil in the 2015 China Open. He has gone to collect wins at the 2016 Austrian Open and Dutch Open in 2018.

Leading the chasing pack was France's Victor Perez, who matched Wu's 67 to follow up his rounds of 73 and 66.

A further shot behind in a tie for third were Tom Lewis, the Englishman carding the best round of the day with a 65, Kurt Kitayama and defending champion Bryson DeChambeau.

DeChambeau finished with a flourish with birdies at the closing two holes, before revealing that like his round, he was below par.

"Being under the weather and fighting through some of the stuff that happened last week (he missed the cut in Abu Dhabi) and persevering this week would be a tremendous honour," said the American.

"I'm worse today. I couldn't hear anything out of my right ear until on number 13 it finally popped and that was helpful a little bit but, boy, was it a struggle out there for me on the greens today."

Overnight leader Eddie Pepperell signed for a par 72 to be placed sixth, eight under.

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