Rookie golfer Richard McEvoy continued to upstage the stars in the US$700,000 Omega Hong Kong Open today after opening up a three stroke lead at the halfway mark.
The 24-year-old Englishman followed up his eight-under-par 62 at The Hong Kong Golf with a 68 to finish the day on 10-under-par 130. The prestigious tournament, now in its 45th year, is being co-sanctioned by the Asian PGA and European Tours for the third year in row.
Defending champion Fredrik Jacobson from Sweden is in second place after shooting a 65, while his compatriot Henrik Nystrom, who finished joint second last year, is two strokes further back.
"After such a low round it is good to get a good steady round in. It's good to shoot a couple under and let everyone try and chase it," said McEvoy.
Former amateur star McEvoy won the European Tour Qualifying School last month and has displayed a maturity beyond his years in what is the opening event of The European Tour's 2003/2004 season.
"I was very relaxed. I just love being here and being out there. I enjoy having fun all the time. It's been good. I am just going to try and play exactly the same way at the weekend," added McEvoy, who was part of the Great Britain and Ireland team that won the Walker Cup in 2001.
The Englishman shot four birdies and two bogies to leave the field trailing in his wake.
"I have a solid game so I don't really put myself under that much pressure. It's nice to be at the front and I enjoy being there," said McEvoy.
Jacobson holed a 15 foot birdie putt on the last and is well placed heading into the last two rounds.
"It's nice to make that one up the last to get a little closer before the weekend so that I can sleep nicely," said Jacobson.
The Swede's victory last year was his first on The European Tour and proved to be the catalyst for an outstanding season. He also won the Portuguese Open and the season-ending Volvo Masters in Spain to claim fourth place on the Volvo Order of Merit.
"I will feel good if I am in there on Sunday after what I have been through this year," added the Swede.
Thailand's Prayad Marksaeng is joint fourth on four under with Ireland's Padraig Harrington, South African Hennie Otto, and Sweden's Peter Gustafsson.
"I missed the cut last year so I'm looking for a top-10 finish this week. The leader is well in front and might be difficult to catch," said Prayad, who has spent most of this year playing in Japan.
Harrington, third on last season's Order of Merit in Europe, shot a 69.
"I didn't hole the putts on the front nine but I did at the end. They were two totally contrasting nine holes. Overall I am happy enough at one under. Obviously a bit of work has to be done at the weekend. I am still in the tournament," said the Irishman.
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 yesterday. The competition will continue tomorrow through till Round 4.
Meanwhile, Michael Campbell from New Zealand and Jean Van de Velde from France attended this year's OMEGA Ladies Day with numbers of local celebrities and artists. Both the players said they were very glad to have been here and praised the very top quality of the golf course of the Hong Kong Golf Club in Fanling.
130 - Richard McEvoy (ENG) 62-68
133 - Fredrik Jacobson (SWE) 68-65
135 - Henrik Nystrom (SWE) 69-66
136 - Hennie Otto (RSA) 68-68, Padraig Harrington (IRE) 67-69
Prayad Marksaeng (THA) 67-69, Peter Gustafsson (SWE) 72-64
137 - Chris Gane (ENG) 70-67, Steven O'Hara (SCO) 66-71, Darren Clarke (NIR)
68-69, Rob Rashell (USA) 70-67,Amandeep Johl (IND) 66-71, Adam Fraser (AUS)
Christopher Hanell (SWE) 68-69
138 - Wang Ter-Chang (TPE) 68-70, Des Terblanche (RSA) 70-68, Gary Rusnak
(USA) 68-70, Michael Campbell (NZL) 67-71, Desvonde Botes (RSA) 67-71, Shaun
Webster (ENG) 68-70, Tsai Chi-huang (TPE) 68-70, Choi Kyung-ju (KOR) 70-68
139 - Barry Lane (ENG) 67-72, James Kingston (RSA) 69-70, Zhang Lian-wei
(CHN) 67-72, José Maria Olazabal (ESP) 68-71, Kyi Hla Han (MYN) 69-70
Derek Fung (HKG) 68-71, Tyrol Auret (RSA) 71-68, Jamie Elson (ENG) 72-67
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