Brendan Jones sank a birdie on the last to ensure Australia take a share of the lead alongside Spain into tomorrow’s final round of the Omega Mission Hills World Cup.
Having started today’s third-round fourballs four shots behind overnight leaders Spain, Jones and team-mate Richard Green returned to the clubhouse with a nine-under-par 63 today to move Australia onto 22-under 194 for the tournament.
Miguel Angel Jimenez and Pablo Larrazabal failed to build on their superb 63 in the tricky foursomes for Spain yesterday as they signed for five-under-par 67 on the Olazabal course at Mission Hills Golf Club.
Australia cut into Spain’s lead early when Green shot two successive birdies from the second before Japan Tour regular Jones added three more before the turn.
Green picked up shots on the par-five 11th and 14th but Australia still trailed Spain by three strokes heading onto the final few holes.
However, the defining moment in the round came on the 15th when Jones shot an eagle three, hitting a nine iron to within six feet before making the putt.
Larrazabal bogeyed the same hole for Spain before Jones sank a birdie putt from three feet on the 18th to move Australia into a share of the lead.
“It was a solid performance,” said Green. “Brendan was there when I needed him and I would like to think I was there for him. It was a good, solid day and we are right in contention for tomorrow.”
Jimenez said: “The game today was not at the level of the first two days. We made a lot of mistakes. On 15, the par five, we dropped a shot, and in this format that’s like killing yourself.”
Sweden, represented by the two highest-ranked players at the tournament in Robert Karlsson and Henrik Stenson, are third at 18 under after a 66 today while Germany are a further stroke behind in fourth place following their 68.
Ireland’s Graeme McDowell and Paul McGinley maintained their impressive displays at the World Cup after a four-under 68 today left them on 15 under for the tournament.
England’s Ian Poulter and Ross Fisher produced their best performance of the tournament so far but it has come too late for them to mount a serious challenge for the trophy.
Having struggled to a two-over 74 in second-round foursomes, England came out strongly today and shot an impressive 10 birdies, including six successive from the second, to finish with nine-under 63.
“To shoot three under on Thursday and then two-over on Friday and to go out and shoot nine under, it shows that that we felt like we still had a good chance,” said Fisher.
“It’s promising, so hopefully we can go out there tomorrow and shoot a decent score and hopefully we can see England on the board.”
Scotland’s Colin Montgomerie and Alastair Forsyth, meanwhile, could only manage a 68 and are seven under for the tournament in a share of 20th place while Bradley Dredge and Richard Johnson also shot a 68 for Wales that leaves them two under overall.