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6 December 2003

Hanell vaults into OMEGA Hong Kong Open lead

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Sweden's Christopher Hanell took the surprise third round lead in the Omega Hong Kong Open today at The Hong Kong Golf Club.

Hanell, a graduate from last month's European Tour Qualifying School, fired a five-under-par 65 to lie one stroke ahead of Ireland's Padraig Harrington and Thailand's Prayad Marksaeng.



The US$700,000 event is the opening leg of The European Tour's 2003/2004 season and the penultimate tournament of this year's Asian PGA Tour.



Harrington and Prayad both three putted the 18th for bogeys to fire rounds of 67.



England's Richard McEvoy, the leader after the first and second rounds, shot a 74 and is two off the lead.



Hanell, who played on The European Tour from 1999 before losing his card in 2002, was one of the few players to card a bogey free round. He leads on eight-under-par 202.



On the front side he made birdies on the third, sixth and seventh and came home with birdies on the 10th and 17th.



"I'm very happy...no blemishes on the card. It feels great to be up on the leaderboard. I'm loving it right now," said Hanell.



The 30 year old is looking for his first win on The European Tour. His best finish is joint third in the British Masters in 1999.



"It'll be fun in the final round tomorrow. I'm expecting good crowds and I usually like to play in front of crowds. I feel happy today, maybe tomorrow I can finish it off," added Hanell.



Harrington holed a bunker shot on the par-five 12th for an eagle and drained a 20 footer for birdie on 17.



"I hit a lot of good shots that kept going over the pin. It was good to hole a long bunker shot on 12. It did make a big difference to my round. I holed a good putt on 17 as well so put the two of them together and it has given me the 67," said Harrington, who finished third on last season's European Tour Order of Merit.



The European Ryder Cup star also three putted the 16th.



"I am lying nicely but I feel like I have missed a bit of an opportunity. I could be two or three better. Having had a good run of luck on the day you'd like to make the most of it so I am a little bit disappointed but obviously well in contention for tomorrow," added the Irishman.



Harrington and Prayad both three putted the final after rushing their first putts by the hole.



"If I can play like I did today I think I can win. I drove the ball well and struck my irons better than I have all week. I have not won since the 2000Casino Filipino Open and it would be good to snatch another victory," said



Prayad, who has spent most of this year playing in Japan.



The wheels came off for McEvoy, who began the round leading by three. He made just one birdie, on the third, and carded five bogies.



"It was a disappointing day after two great days. I just didn't get anything going and didn't make a putt. I didn't play particularly well, just one of those days," said McEvoy, who bogeyed the first two holes.



Defending champion Fredrik Jacobson never got going after four putting the second for a double bogey. The Swede is two off the lead after carding a 71.



"It wasn't a good day. I started off bad and I finished off bad. I played alright in the middle for a while. I had a few chances. I got it back so I still have a chance tomorrow but it wasn't what I was looking for today," said Jacobson.



The OMEGA Double Eagle Launch took place at the end of today's competition. The Double Eagle, or scoring three under par, is one of the rarest feats in golf, signifying extraordinary achievement. The Double Eagle is a score that can only be carded through sheer precision timing and prefect accuracy, the very hallmarks of OMEGA design.



As a tribute to this exceptional golfing achievement, OMEGA has established the Double Eagle trophy. The "trophy" is in fact a special limited-edition of the Double Eagle watch and will be awarded to any professional golfer who scores a double eagle in an official PGA stroke play tournament.



As for the OMEGA Double Eagle Launch, James Kingson from South Africa and Zhang Lian Wei from China, with numbers of local celebrities including Simon Yam, Qi Qi, Richie Jen and Michelle Yeoh attended.



The longest drive competition, which has been taking place at Hole 11 during the OMEGA Hong Kong Open, is still led by Daniel Gaunt from Australia, who hit a 351-yard in Day one.

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