(Reuters) – American Bryson DeChambeau fired a four-under 68 in the third round to take a one-shot lead over defending champion Li Haotong in the Omega Dubai Desert Classic on Saturday.
World number five DeChambeau had two straight bogeys on the seventh and eighth holes but ended the round strongly with four birdies after the turn, for a total of six on the day, to go 16-under for the tournament.
DeChambeau, who is bidding to claim his maiden European Tour victory, was not completely satisfied with his display despite holding an advantage heading into Sunday’s final round at the Emirates Golf Club.
“I’m not 100 percent with my golf game right now,” the 25-year-old DeChambeau said.
“I’m still leading… it’s fantastic… but my expectation levels are for how I know I can perform, and I feel like I’m underperforming a little bit.”
DeChambeau recovered after two bogeys to rattle in a 10-foot birdie putt at the 13th hole to grab a share of the lead, before further gains on the 15th and 17th holes to edge ahead.
“Made it happen when it’s necessary and hopefully I can have one more of those days and maybe even a better-ball striking day… I can’t express how awesome it would be to win on the European Tour,” DeChambeau added.
Hot on DeChambeau’s heels is Li, who shot a third straight round of 67, finishing with two consecutive birdies, to come back into contention.
“I did play really solid compared to the last two rounds and long game being much better. But just had a couple of mistakes on the greens. In total, pretty good round,” Li said.
Four-times major winner Ernie Els was two strokes behind the Chinese golfer, tied for third alongside England’s Matt Wallace.
Lucas Herbert, who led alongside DeChambeau after 36 holes, started poorly but recovered late on to sit fifth where he was in a four-way tie.
(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis)