Graeme McDowell’s return to Hong Kong continues to be all positive, keeping himself in contention for a hopeful victory heading to the final round on the famed Hong Kong Golf Club course.
McDowell kept his scoring in the 60s for a third running adding a four-under 66 to earlier scores of 67 and 65 to be sharing seventh place at 12-under-par and only four shots adrift of the leading duo of Aussie Cam Smith, who signed for a 65, along with Thailand’s Phachara Khongwatmai, who added a ‘moving day’ 66.
Smith, who has won twice in the LIV Golf League this year, the most recent being in Bedminster in August, had an erratic day off the tee. The worst of those shots came on the 16th where he hooked his tee shot into the trees, from where he was able to get his ball back into play and make a bogey.
“Hit a really crappy shot off the tee [on 16],” said the 30-year-old, playing in the event for only the second time, the first being nine years ago when he tied ninth.
“Didn’t feel comfortable with the long stuff all day today. So a little bit of work to do overnight I think, and get it back to where it should be, and it will be fine tomorrow.”
The slip up on 16 was his only dropped shot of the day, while his silky-smooth putting stroke saved the day for him with six birdies.
“I must tighten up the driver and the stuff off the tee. I didn’t hit as many fairways today which led to more missed greens. It was a bit of a grind out there today. Hopefully it will be stress free tomorrow. I found parts of the course I don’t want to see ever again.”
G Mac began on the back foot with an opening hole bogey but then produced birdies, in one-putting both the sixth and seventh holes along with birdie at the 10th, and for a second day running while he also birdied the par-5 13th for a third day in a row, ahead of a second birdie in succession at the 16th.
He previously contested the event in 2007 when he finished T6th while he also returned a year later.
McDowell is seeking also a first World Ranking counting victory since his DP World Tour success and also 16th pro career title Saudi International.
And if the affable Northern Irishman needs any additional encouragement it was, and his own words, setting ‘a new course record’ after his second round in the ‘Chopsticks Challenge’, a fun event that Hong Kong Open organises.
It’s been smash hit video (see below) when officials set-up a table on the side of the practice range and positioned dinner bowls, one full with golf balls, and with the likes of Masters champion Patrick Reed, defending champ Wade Ormsby, fellow Aussie and also past wineer Scott Hend, Scot David Drysdale, India’s Shiv Kapur along with Smith and others needing to use chopsticks to move the golf balls from the full bowl into the empty bowl.
— Asian Tour (@asiantourgolf) November 10, 2023
The ‘Chopsticks Challenge is also what they do so well ‘promotion wise’ at the premier Asian Tour event like arranging Wednesday night at the races for players, caddies and the media.
Had Ireland-born Hong Kong Head Pro Brian O’Donohue been involved in the ‘Challenge’ he may have won, having now lived and worked in China for many years before July when he moved to this week’s host club.
O’Donovan’s third round included five birdies but the 35-year-old undid his good work work with just as many bogeys.
He’ll commence the final day at two-under while the Bandon-born player can be proud, as will be this week’s host club, of his efforts on the course this week.