Golf: Swede takes a healthy lead

MAYBE Robert Karlsson is right. Too much time watching the leaderboards can make you wonder how a bunch of sick, injured and even sleepy golfers can be playing so well, not to mention when all those major champions are going to make a major move.

No, much better to ignore the whole lot. By doing so Karlsson, with a third-round 67, took a two-shot lead at 18 under par in the Dubai Desert Classic. The good news is that the two previous occasions he has been in front at this stage the 28-year-old Swede has gone on to victory.

The less than cheerful news (for Karlsson) is that the leaderboard is stuffed fuller of delicious morsels than a box of Belgian chocolates. Ignacio Garrido, the Spanish Ryder Cup player, was two strokes back, with Jose Maria Olazabal and Ernie Els three behind, Ian Woosnam on 14 under and Greg Norman one further back.

Olazabal and Woosnam both scored rounds of 65, seven under. For the Welshman, the first 45 holes of the tournament were calm enough, in contrast to the 30 minutes before his tea-time on Thursday when his alarm clock, mistakenly set for an hour too late, finally went off.

But an inward half of 31 with six birdies left Woosnam with a chance to capture a title he should have claimed last year. Then, Woosie sank his approach in the water at the last and then lost a play-off to Richard Green. Now he said: "I haven't played my best golf, but I am scoring well thanks to an old putter I have started using again."

Olazabal's back nine was even more dramatic, consisting of six birdies, two pars and a bogey. Still suffering from a throat infection which had eased but was still severe, Olazabal produced a heroic performance as when he returned after 18 months away from the game here a year ago and also shot a 65 in the third round. "It is going to be difficult to win taking into account my condition but also the number of players close to the lead," he said.

If this title is destined for a player who almost did not compete in the event then Olazabal and Woosnam are not the only contenders. Paul McGinley, with a pulled rib cartilage, needed painkillers before shooting a 64 to get to 12 under par. Fittingly for a man sponsored by Bupa, he has had intensive treatment and managed to find an extra 30 yards on his game yesterday.

"Rest is what it needs, but I can play on without doing any permanent damage - it is just a matter of how much pain you can stand," the Irishman said.

After eight previous visits to this tournament, the players have come to know every sand dune of the Emirates course. The scoring has always been low, Els and Fred Couples holding the tournament record with a total of 268, 20 under par. Colin Montgomerie was 18 under in winning two years ago, but after three rounds of his season's debut, the Scot is well off the pace at seven under.

"This is a putting contest and I have not putted well," Monty said. "It's disappointing that there is less rough than in previous years and also that they have put some of the tees forward." He had a point. Only four of the 83 weekend qualifiers are over par after three rounds. Birdie fest or not, the quality of the leaderboard promises an exciting denouement today.

Arts and Entertainment
tv'Jingle Bells' quickstep on Strictly Come Dancing's Christmas Special
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Life and Style
fashion
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there