Wu Ashun eagled his opening hole and never looked back as he carded a 67 to take a one shot lead into the final round of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.
The three-time European Tour winner kicked off his Chinese New Year celebrations in style by adding four birdies and dropping a single shot to get to 11 under par and lead the way from Frenchman Victor Perez.
The 34-year-old had led by four just after the turn but Alfred Dunhill Links Champion Perez stormed home in 31 to match his 67 and cut the gap to one at Emirates Golf Club.
Defending champion Bryson DeChambeau battled illness to finish with birdies on his last two holes and end the third round at nine under par, alongside fellow American Kurt Kitayama and Englishman Tom Lewis.
Overnight leader Eddie Pepperell is then at eight under par, a shot clear of fellow Englishman Tommy Fleetwood, South African Dean Burmester and Spaniard Nacho Elvira. The Open Champion Shane Lowry, Dane Soren Kjeldsen and Scot Grant Forrest round out the top ten at six under par.
Wu Ashun: “That was my “Happy Chinese New Year Shot” (on the first). First hole and second shot is unbelievable for me for a very good start. I didn’t know I holed it and then the gallery went wild, so I was very happy.
“I’m working hard with my short game and, yeah, some days you get lucky, you can chip from everywhere. I had a good feeling today and just chipped it in the hole.
“The last couple of holes I think you have a chance and on number 10, 11, I might say number 12 and 13 too. Good chances for those couple holes and I’m happy to hole three birdies on those four holes.
“Tomorrow is a great day for me, I think, and I’m always happy to play the final round in the final group. Just enjoy the game and play your best, best game, best round tomorrow and let it happen, that’s it.”
Victor Perez: “Winning (last season) was obviously great. Being my first year it’s nice to get over the hump and tick that box off and it definitely frees me up when I play. I think when you’re a rookie you come in and there’s this expectation, like you want to play well but you don’t know how well you can play and hopefully win. And it was good to get that one over the hump and it’s been a good ride ever since then and hopefully many more to come.
“I think that it (his good form) is a combination of things. If you look at my past in the previous tours, I kind of peaked towards the end of the year on the Challenge Tour, I played well. I was kind of in the middle of the pack up until the end of the year and played really well at the end, so I got on those runs where I’m kind of free wheeling it, which is obviously what you hope for and hope it lasts as long as possible.
“Obviously it’s been a great run, I think I’ve done a really good job this off season preparing for the upcoming year with a lot of travel and obviously it’s great to be in this position going into Sunday.”
Bryson DeChambeau: “I’m (feeling) worse today. I couldn’t hear anything out of my right ear until number 13 it finally popped. That was helpful a little bit, but, boy, was it a struggle out there for me on the greens today. That’s okay, I’m going to go work on it a little bit. I didn’t feel like I was putting bad it just seemed like putts were going weird ways and ways they shouldn’t. But I’m going to work on that and hopefully have that ready to go for tomorrow.
“I’m actually hitting it surprisingly really, really well right now. I figured something out last night and I implemented it today and it worked beautifully, it was just a couple distance control things that kind of threw me off. So I’m going to go work on that, work on some putting, speed control, speed control was not good today and got to make sure that’s taut tomorrow.
“It would be incredible (to successfully defend). Being under the weather and fighting through some of the stuff that happened last week and persevering this week would be a tremendous honour.”
Tom Lewis: “I played solid the first day, I was a bit nervy, the greens are so fast and firm out there, and I was just really pleased with the way I plodded. I haven’t played my best, but I’ve been successful and today I took the chances when I had them and I’m really happy.
“I haven’t really shot many low scores around here, so to shoot that score is great. I missed a couple of opportunities, but I made a very good up-and-down on the 16th, so it kind of evens itself out.
“Anything could happen, there’s always someone that shoots a low score in the last round and around here you can easily get out of place and find yourself just one over, two over, like I did in the first round. But if I can keep doing what I’ve done the last couple of days and give myself opportunities to try to limit mistakes and if it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be.”
Kurt Kitayama: “It was a good day overall. This definitely helps just to try to be right there in it going into the last day. Still pretty firm out there with the greens, so it’s still playing tough. Anything under par is a good score.
“Playing college golf and living out there now it’s something I’m familiar with. This rough’s different though, it’s not really desert golf, I would say, from what I play back home, so it’s a new challenge and it’s a good challenge.”
Round three scores
205 A Wu (Chn) 69 69 67,
206 V Perez (Fra) 73 66 67,
207 K Kitayama (USA) 69 70 68, T Lewis (Eng) 73 69 65, B Dechambeau (USA) 70 67 70,
208 E Pepperell (Eng) 69 67 72,
209 D Burmester (RSA) 69 68 72, N Elvira (Esp) 73 70 66, T Fleetwood (Eng) 75 65 69,
210 G Forrest (Sco) 73 68 69, S Lowry (Irl) 72 69 69, S Kjeldsen (Den) 69 76 65,
211 A Arnaus (Esp) 72 68 71, L Herbert (Aus) 69 71 71, C Bezuidenhout (RSA) 73 66 72, J Winther (Den) 76 70 65, R Macintyre (Sco) 74 70 67, R Langasque (Fra) 69 69 73,
212 V Hovland (Nor) 71 70 71, M Lorenzo-Vera (Fra) 74 71 67, R Fox (Nzl) 76 70 66, J Singh Brar (Eng) 71 71 70,
213 S Heisele (Ger) 70 69 74, S Garcia (Esp) 71 72 70, K Samooja (Fin) 69 74 70, J Smith (Eng) 72 70 71, B Hebert (Fra) 72 73 68, M Korhonen (Fin) 74 71 68, T Pieters (Bel) 67 77 69,
214 S Norris (RSA) 69 73 72, G Green (Mas) 73 71 70, H Stenson (Swe) 72 70 72, M Fitzpatrick (Eng) 74 71 69, M Schwab (Aut) 72 72 70, E Van Rooyen (RSA) 70 75 69, D Lipsky (USA) 68 75 71, M Keyser (RSA) 74 68 72, S Jamieson (Sco) 74 71 69, N Bertasio (Ita) 74 70 70,
215 N Colsaerts (Bel) 77 69 69, M Jiménez (Esp) 72 74 69, J Harding (RSA) 71 73 71, M Pavon (Fra) 69 71 75, I Poulter (Eng) 71 73 71,
216 L Oosthuizen (RSA) 71 72 73, R Karlsson (Swe) 69 68 79, M Kaymer (Ger) 72 71 73, C Shinkwin (Eng) 73 73 70,
217 J Luiten (Ned) 72 72 73, M Kawamura (Jpn) 69 73 75, A Otaegui (Esp) 72 71 74, T Detry (Bel) 73 72 72,
218 A Björk (Swe) 77 69 72, L Gagli (Ita) 75 70 73, T Pulkkanen (Fin) 73 73 72, J Guerrier (Fra) 71 74 73, G Bhullar (Ind) 73 71 74, A Rai (Eng) 77 69 72, D Willett (Eng) 76 70 72,
219 R Ramsay (Sco) 73 73 73, J Scrivener (Aus) 77 69 73, L Westwood (Eng) 78 68 73, J Hansen (Den) 75 70 74, S Crocker (USA) 72 72 75, D Drysdale (Sco) 74 71 74, P Harrington (Irl) 71 75 73,
220 Z Lombard (RSA) 71 75 74,
221 N Møller (Den) 74 72 75,
222 R Wattel (Fra) 70 76 76, D Law (Sco) 75 71 76,
223 S Soderberg (Swe) 71 75 77,