Year of the eagle! Wu Ashun celebrates Chinese New Year with Dubai charge

China’s three-time European Tour winner Wu Ashun held a four-shot lead at one stage but heads into the final round in Dubai ahead by one

Wu Ashun took advantage of a “happy Chinese New Year shot” as he seized the lead after the third round of the Dubai Desert Classic.

The 34-year-old from China has three previous wins on the European Tour and gave himself hope for a fourth as a five-under-par 67 secured a one-shot lead.

Wu led by four at one stage, after successive birdies at 10, 11 and 12, but a dropped shot at the 16th and no further gains left him 11 under after 54 holes and allowed the field to close in.

Frenchman Victor Perez moved to one behind as he matched Wu’s 67, while Englishman Tom Lewis scorched to a 65 and shared third place on nine under with Americans Kurt Kitayama and Bryson DeChambeau, who posted 68 and 70 respectively.

Eddie Pepperell fell from first place overnight to sixth on his own after a level-par 72.

Wu must have had an inkling it would be his day when his second shot at the first, out of the rough, cleared the greenside bunker and zipped across the green and straight into the hole for an eagle.

 

He picked up a shot at the third too, chipping in to seize the lead, before the streak of birdies after the turn looked like making it a procession.

It was not that way in the end, but Wu nevertheless heads into the final day at the top of the leaderboard.

Asked about his stroke of fortune at the first, Wu said: “That’s like a happy Chinese New Year shot. The first hole, and the second shot’s unbelievable for me, for a very good start. I was very happy.”

The chip-in at three also had Wu celebrating.

“I’ve been working hard on my short game, but some days you get lucky and can chip from everywhere,” he said in a European Tour interview.

“You get a good feeling and I got the good feeling today.”

Going into the final round, Wu hopes his experience as a multiple winner on tour will influence the outcome.

“That is always good experience,” he said. “So I feel very, very comfortable and very relaxed for playing the final round.”

 

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