DUBAI: Sergio Garcia made two birdies in his last two holes in darkness and opened up a three-shot lead over Henrik Stenson on Saturday (Sunday in Manila) in the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.
The Spaniard first drove the par-4 17th green and two putted, and then hurried to the 18th tee in an effort to complete his round. He only had the lights from the grandstands to guide him when he pitched his third shot to six feet, and then made the birdie putt.
The World No15, who is yet to record a top-10 in the tournament despite playing it seven times before, shot a four-under par 68, making all his score on the back nine after completing the front nine in par with a bogey on the first and a birdie on the second.
Stenson, who was playing a group ahead of Garcia’s, also drained a four-footer for birdie in near darkness for a round of five-under par 67.
Garcia goes into the final day of the $2.5 million European Tour event at 16-under par 200, with Stenson on 203. England’s Ian Poulter (67) and Thailand’s Prom Meesawat (68) were tied third at 205.
England’s Tyrrell Hatton earlier shot the low round of the day – a seven-under par 65 – to climb to tied seventh place at 207, one shot behind American Peter Uihlein (69) and South Africa’s George Coetzee (70).
“At the end it was very, very dark, I’ll tell you that. When we were walking on 17, I thought, well, it will probably be a little dark but not too bad,” said Garcia, who made five birdies and a bogey on the back nine.
“But then it gets dark very, very quickly here. Couldn’t really see much on the last three shots. Pretty much couldn’t see the ball land and the last putt was a little bit of a feel and a little bit of the read that George gave me, and I’m very fortunate to be able to make it.
“Yeah, it was a nice round. Obviously it wasn’t easy, a little shaky here and there at the beginning. But back nine was great. A lot of good shots, a lot of good putts.”
Stenson made four birdies on his back nine, and said: “It was nice that we managed to finish. It was important, because it means we don’t have to get up early in the morning and get a few hours of sleep more.
“I am looking forward to tomorrow. Make a couple of quick birdies and try and put some pressure on Sergio.”
The last group that started from the 10th tee was still out on the golf course when it became too dark to continue and will have to come back at 7:30am UAE time to complete their round.