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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Alvaro Quirós takes lead into final round at Hong Kong Open

Alvaro Quirós will take a one-shot lead into the final round of the Hong Kong Open, with Rory McIlroy three behind the Spaniard following a difficult day for the US Open champion.

Quirós began the day level with McIlroy at the top of the leaderboard and picked up three birdies in a 67 to finish 10 under, one ahead of Sweden's Peter Hanson. YE Yang and Pariya Junhasavasdikul are tied for third on eight under, while McIlroy ended the day in fifth on seven under par following a 70.

McIlroy started in solid fashion but, after missing a birdie chance on the third, found sand at the par-three fourth and his par putt from around 10 feet grazed the edge of the hole. Worse was to follow as his drive at the fifth ended behind a tree and, after chipping onto the fairway, his third shot missed the green.

However, he managed to get up and down to limit the damage to a bogey and drop to five under par. McIlroy then steadied the ship with a string of pars before collecting his first birdie of the day at the 13th. He also drained a mid-range putt for another at the 17th as he battled back to post a 70 and remain in the hunt.

Ryder Cup team-mate Peter Hanson moved into second place after a fine 65 which included one bogey and six birdies.

"It was nice," Hanson said. "To sum it up, it was very good putting. I had a bit of a slow start making a bogey on the second but from there it was very solid and there were a couple of good bunker shots that saved some pars through the through the middle part of the round."

Yang also returned a 65 and added: "I'm in a good position, better than being ahead in the first or second round. One more day to focus, 18 holes to play. I think my chances are fairly good. There was minimal wind today, so that helped a lot, and my irons and my putter were playing as I've always wanted them to today."

Yang shares third with Pariya on eight under after the Thai youngster overcame a terrible start that saw him bogey the first and double bogey the second with six subsequent birdies. "I kept telling myself 'OK, the round is not over, you made it through to the weekend after playing really bad the last couple of months,"' Pariya said. "Just go out there and enjoy it, just one shot at a time and try to make something happen."

England's David Horsey is in the group at five under par following a 69, while defending champion Ian Poulter is six shots off the lead after a 67.

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