Rasmus Hojgaard climbed into a three-way share of the lead with a five-under-par third round of 67 at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters on Saturday.
Denmark’s Hojgaard is 10-under overall, alongside France’s Ugo Coussaud and Japan’s Rikuya Hoshino, and the trio have a one-shot lead over Ewen Ferguson, Tom McKibbin and Niklas Norgaard. Coussaud and Hojgaard began the day four shots off the lead, and the Dane continued the form he showed in the second round, where he shot the lowest score on Friday to put himself back in contention after a disappointing one-over par opening round.
Hojgaard had a flawless third round, hitting two birdies on the front nine and another three after the turn. “Most of the round was very solid today, I felt like I was pretty good out of the tee box, gave myself some good chances,” Hojgaard said. “I managed to keep it bogey-free so that’s a positive.”
Coussaud made up for his two bogeys with seven birdies while Hoshino kept up his steady performance in Doha. He was two shots off the lead after both previous rounds, and a birdie on the 17th saw him card a three-under-par 69 to join the leaders.
Haydn Barron started the round with a two-shot lead, but a disastrous front nine, including a triple bogey before the turn, leaves the Australian three shots behind going into the final day after carding a two-over-par 74.
But 2022 Champion Ferguson seized the initiative to climb to nine under, only for Hoshino to quickly move to double figures.
A hat-trick of birdies around the turn saw Coussaud hold a two-shot advantage at 11 under after 13 holes.
However, a bogey at the 15th halved his advantage, and Hojgaard and Hoshino ensured they were alongside the Frenchman at the top with birdies at the penultimate hole for a three-way lead with 18 holes to play. It looked as though Australian Barron was continuing his momentum from the opening two rounds when he climbed to ten under after the first hole. Hoshino was in close quarters with an opening birdie and he was in leading group when Barron bogeyed the third and fourth, despite the Japanese dropping a shot at the latter hole as well.
That left the door open for Hojgaard, Ferguson and Waring to join them at the top of the leaderboard at seven under, but Hoshino moved ahead with a gain at the seventh. However, Ferguson, who had to wait until the seventh to pick up his first shot of the day, went a terrific run of six birdies in eight holes to take the outright lead at nine under after 14 holes.
Coussaud joined him at that mark on the back of a hat-trick of birdies from the eighth, only for Hoshino to move into double figures after gains at the ninth and tenth. He immediately gave the shot back at the 11th, which saw Coussaud take full advantage following a brace of birdies at the 12th and 13th.
The Frenchman now held a two-shot lead, but he found trouble from the tee at the 15th to halve his deficit and Hojgaard wasted no time to reach double figures for the first time at the 17th hole.
The Dane drained a 13-foot putt to sit alongside Coussaud at the top, but Hoshino joined the pair when he sank a birdie at the penultimate hole for the third day in a row.
Hojgaard and Coussaud struggled off the final tee, but both managed to salvage par, while Hoshino slid a birdie putt by which would have given him a one-shot lead heading into the final round.
“I had a very good start, two birdies, but the putter was quite hot today and felt I hit very good tee-shots as well,” Coussaud said.
“I was never in too much trouble before 15, but I had a proper round and enjoyed it today.”
Ferguson carded the joint-lowest round of the tournament with a flawless six-under-par 66 to sit one adrift alongside Northern Irishman Tom McKibbin and Denmark’s Niklas Norgaard.
English pair Waring and Sam Bairstow are at eight under, while Barron battled back to join first-round leader Ashun Wu and Jorge Campillo one stroke further back.
DOHA, QATAR - FEBRUARY 10: Rasmus Hojgaard of Denmark plays his tee shot on the 6th hole during day three of the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters at Doha Golf Club on February 10, 2024 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Octavio Passos/Getty Images)
Denmark’s Rasmus Hojgaard and Japan’s Rikuya Hoshino (right) in action during the third day of the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters at the Doha Golf Club on Saturday.