Nicolai Højgaard will take a three-stroke advantage into the final day of the Ras Al Khaimah Championship presented by Phoenix Capital after a stunning back nine display earned him an eight under 64 and a 20 under total.
The 20-year-old already has one title to his name, at last year’s DS Automobiles Italian Open, when he led the field by one shot heading into the final round, before converting that advantage for a maiden victory.
Højgaard enters Sunday at Al Hamra Golf Club targeting a second DP World win before his 21st birthday, his twin brother Rasmum having already won three times, and he will once again tee it up alongside Scotland’s David Law in the final group.
Law held the halfway lead in the northernmost of the United Arab Emirates, and he enjoyed a steady start on day three as he was four under through 11 and three shots clear of his Danish counterpart.
The tables turned thereafter, however, as the birdies dried up for the 30-year-old Aberdonian while Højgaard stormed home with five birdies in the final six. Law’s bogey six at the last left him three shots back, signing for a three under 69 and a 17 under total.
Finland’s Tapio Pulkkanen is a short further back on 16 under, while Oliver Bekker of South Africa holds fourth place on his own on 15 under.
Nicolai Højgaard: “It felt the same as yesterday actually, played really solid. I got off to a really good start today. I’m driving really well at the moment so I’m trying to play quite aggressive and the last two days have been good off the tees, that’s the reason why I’m shooting all these good scores at the moment. It was pretty good out there.
“I’m just thinking about the par fives, playing them in four under every day and see if I can make birdies on the rest of the holes. I’m just trying to focus on the things I can control, which is commitment and trying to free up and so far I’m happy with how that’s gone.
“I had really good commitment, just trying to free up on every shot and it felt good. I didn’t hole any big putts until 16, and I finished with a couple of good ones on 16 and 17, so it could have been really, really low.
”You want to be in these positions in the final round, but it’s 18 more holes and a lot can happen in 18 holes. I’ve heard it will be a little more windy so you never know. I’m going to try and do the same things out on the course, commit and free up and then I’ll feel like I have a good chance.”
David Law: “It’s annoying to finish like that. I played pretty good until the last four holes and then I struggled. Got a bit greedy, thought we could maybe nick it with a three wood, chase it up the front and make a four which is a mentality you want to have. You’re always trying to better yourself and get better.
“I probably shouldn’t have taken that shot on, but if I had that shot again I’d probably do it again too. I played really well, felt comfortable. It wasn’t that great at the start and then I birdied three and that settled me down, and I played well from then. There were a lot of positives and a lot of things to take into tomorrow.
“It would have been nice to nick one at the last and be closer to Nicolai but it hasn’t worked out that way. I think it’s going to be a bit winder tomorrow so it’ll be a bit tricky. It’ll be much the same as today for me, I thought we were in a good mind space, we had good shots, executed what we discussed until the last where we made a little bit of a mistake. But on the whole I thought we were really good so it’ll be more of the same tomorrow.”
Tapio Pulkkanen: “I have to say my ball-striking was really solid today. I had a lot of chances, a lot of straight putts that were easy to read and I made a lot of them so I’m happy for that.
“There are a lot of carries, if you can carry it far. You have a lot of chances to go over the bunkers, so it’s a good course for long hitters. I think my tee shots were the biggest improvements, they have been strong this week and especially today, so hopefully the same tomorrow.”
Oliver Bekker: “I played pretty solid, six birdies in a row was nice. I just couldn’t get it going on the back nine, I had a few good chances, but the holes that I needed to score I didn’t get it on the fairway so I didn’t make it easy for myself – I actually scrambled quite well on those holes for par.
“Overall if you gave me six under at the start of the round I would have said thank you very much. The positives are that I didn’t make a bogey today but I did think I was hitting it close, doing everything nicely so for the birdies to dry up was a little frustrating. But I’m still in there with a good shout tomorrow.
“I had a good season last year and the I almost won the SA Open at the end of the year so I’ve been hitting it good and playing nicely. I’m glad to be in that position, being on a new tour – I’ve been out here a while now but everything is new again – and to be in position to win early in the season is great.”