Graeme McDowell admits he will find it difficult going up against Ryder Cup playing partner Victor Dubuisson as he takes a one-shot lead into the final round of the Saudi International.
The Northern Irishman carded a third-round 66 to get to 12 under in the desert, one shot ahead of the Frenchman with whom he formed such a formidable partnership at Gleneagles in 2014.
After holing the vital putt for Europe in their victory over the United States in 2010, McDowell was tasked with mentoring rookie Dubuisson by captain Paul McGinley four years later, and the pair claimed two points from two in the foursomes in a third consecutive European Tour victory.
The 2010 US Open winner admits he still has a soft spot for Dubuisson almost six years later, but was determined keep his focus on the task at hand in round four.
“We shared a car up to the course this morning and I was chatting with him and I always look out for him, great experiences with him in 2014 at Gleneagles,” McDowell told europeantour.com.
“He’s such a great guy, he hasn’t had the best form the last few years and I’m really, really happy to see him at the top of the leaderboard and looking forward to being with him tomorrow. It’s going to be tough to try and play tough against him but we’re both competitors and we’ll go out there and try and do our job.”
After turning in level par at Royal Greens Golf and Country Club, McDowell holed putts from off the green for birdies at the 12th and 13th before adding further gains on the 14th and last, and he believes he will need to maintain his form with the putter if he is to lift the trophy.
“I always tell my kids we live in a nice house because daddy can putt, that’s about the heart of it, really,” he said. “The putter’s been a little ice cold the last sort of two rounds but I got it heated back up on the back nine today and I’m going to have to putt well to have a chance tomorrow.”
Dubuisson was bogey-free as he made birdies on the second, third, fourth, 12th and 14th, and he was excited about playing alongside McDowell again.
“We haven’t played together since the Ryder Cup, I’m very happy to play with him tomorrow,” he said.
Malaysia’s Gavin Green was at nine under, two shots clear of defending champion Dustin Johnson, Italian Renato Paratore and France’s Victor Perez.
World number one Brooks Koepka and five-time major winner Phil Mickelson were six shots off the lead, one ahead of English trio Ross Fisher, Ian Poulter and Jordan Smith, and Scotland’s Grant Forrest.