Jeddah, Feb 2 (PTI) China’s Li Haotong created history with four eagles in a single round while Sergio Garcia was disqualified for “serious misconduct” on day three of the Saudi International golf tournament here Saturday.
Amidst all the action, India’s Gaganjeet Bhullar finally saw putts dropping and shot four-under 66 to get to four-under and Tied-27th, up 31 places from the cutline at T-58th.
Li, starting the day three shots behind, closed eagle-eagle to join overnight leader Dustin Johnson at 16-under. He now plays in final group for the second successive week. Last week, he was penalised two shots as his caddie was deemed to have lined up behind him on the 18th and he tumbled from third to T-12th.
As the 2017 Masters champion Garcia exited before time, the 2018 Masters champion Patrick Reed made three trips to the water and scored a 10 on 18th but still carded 72.
The Tour put out a statement, saying, “Sergio Garcia has been disqualified from the third round of the Saudi International powered under rule 1.2a. Rule 1.2a allows for disqualification if a player has committed serious misconduct.” Garcia said, “I respect the decisions of my disqualification. In frustration I damaged a couple of greens, for which I apologise, and I have informed my fellow players that it will never happen again.” Bhullar finally found some rhythm and converted the chances he created to force his way into the upper half of the leaderboard after making the weekend on the cutline at the inaugural Saudi International. Bhullar added a 66 to his earlier rounds of 68 and 72 to reach four-under 212.
Li fired eagles twice to get within a shot of the leader Johnson and then landed two more in succession for an amazing total of four eagles to join him at the top. Johnson shot 65 and yet had to give up his three-shot overnight advantage as Li carded eight-under 62 and the two were at Tied-16 under.
Haotong kept saying he was lucky, though he played brilliantly.
“I think it’s very, very lucky today. Those eagles, especially last couple shots, was really solid, but except that, honestly, my play, wasn’t that good. But I did made a lot of par putts.” Johnson led by four after carding six birdies – including four in a row from the ninth – and one bogey in his first 12 holes. But as Johnson safely parred his last six holes, Li playing a group ahead closed the gap with back-to-back eagles on 17th and 18th.
The duo is five shots clear of Englishman Tom Lewis, who posted a bogey-free 62. Ryan Fox and Alex Levy carded 67 each to get to nine-under and Tied-fourth.
Scott Hend (69) was the best Asian Tour member at Tied-sixth with Lee Min Woo (63), who turned pro two weeks ago in Abu Dhabi, Ross Fisher (65), Joachim Hansen (65) and Zander Lombard (70) with all of them bunched at eight-under.
Hend had five birdies, including three between fifth and eighth, but also missed a two-footer on 11th for a bogey and had a double on par-5 12th. PTI
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.