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Westwood surges into Abu Dhabi lead as Lowry misses cut

Francesco Laporta surrendered his advantage at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship as Lee Westwood shot seven under to hit the front.

Lee Westwood at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship
Lee Westwood at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

LEE WESTWOOD SURGED up the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship leaderboard and into a one-shot lead after round three on Saturday.

The former world number one signed for a seven-under 65 to move to 14 under for the tournament, clear of Bernd Wiesberger and overnight leader Francesco Laporta in a tie for second.

There were no Irish in action with Shane Lowry and Pádraig Harrington both missing the cut following disappointing rounds on Friday.

Westwood posted gains on the third and fifth holes before hitting the front after a sublime approach saw him eagle the par-five eighth.

A dropped shot on the 14th hole was followed by a birdie-par-birdie finish as Westwood, looking for a first win since the Nedbank Golf Challenge in November 2018, held onto top spot heading into round four.

“It’s always a bonus to be in contention and that’s basically why we come out here,” said Westwood.

“I’m not going to lie, I didn’t play a lot of golf coming into it, didn’t know what to expect. To be in the lead with one round to go, it’s a real positive.

“I’m just going to go out there and play as well as I can and if it’s good enough, then great. I know I’m talented enough to win the tournament, it’s just a case of applying myself.”

Wiesberger finished with three birdies in succession to stay in touch, while a bogey at the second cost Laporta a share of the lead following a three-under 69.

Matt Fitzpatrick is two shots back in fourth, while Kurt Kitayama and Sergio Garcia sit level on 11 under.

Louis Oosthuizen, the runner-up at the South African Open last weekend, is at nine under and world number one Brooks Koepka had four bogeys in a round of 70 that leaves him five under.

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