Jacobson holds off the cream

Swede Fredrik Jacobson wasn’t fazed when the cream of golf came bubbling to the top at Sheshan International on Saturday.

Swede Fredrik Jacobson wasn’t fazed when the cream of golf came bubbling to the top in Saturday’s third round of the WGC-HSBC Champions at Sheshan International.

World No 2 Lee Westwood, the highest ranked golfer in the tournament, and World No 3 Rory McIlroy both stormed into contention in joint 5th place at 12-under on moving Saturday, McIlroy with a blistering 7-under 65 after re-kindling the form that won him a record $2million at the Shanghai Open last week, and Westood with a 5-under 67.

McIlroy was delighted with his 65: “It’s definitely what I needed to give myself some sort of chance.

“I was five behind going into the last day at the Dunhill (at St Andrews last month) and made a good charge and hopefully I can do the same again.

“I just didn’t make silly mistakes. I feel as if there’s a lot of good scores in me and I was able to produce one of those today.”

Westwood wasn’t quite as happy. but he was not despondent. He said: “I really didn’t hit it very well. I struggled with my swing and wasn’t very consistent.

“But I putted well and I’m going to have a chance to win the tournament. That’s all you ever ask at any tournament.”

Also up there, a little higher on the leaderboard and just ahead of them as this elite event enters the final round was South Africa’s 2010 Open Champion Louis Oosthuizen, who hung onto his overnight second place with a solid 4-under 68 that took him to two off the pace at 14-under, and Australian Adam Scott, this year’s WGC-Bridgestone Invitational winner, who was a shot back in third place after posting a see-saw 69.

The 31-year old Scott’s chances of back-to-back World Golf Championships victories seemed to have nose dived dramatically when he took seven on the long eighth and then a six at the 594 yard 14th, but he followed that with birdies at the 16th and 17th and with a magical pitch at the last that spun into the hole for an eagle three to get back into the race

Now that’s a formidable list of pursuers, to be sure, but it was not all.

Sharing 6th place at 11-under were two more 2010 Major winners, Graeme McDowell (US Open) who shot a 67, and German Martin Kaymer (US PGA) who carded a 68.

Jacobson, who has been smiling his way through each of the first three rounds, could keep smiling on Saturday, however, for in spite of all the high-powered pressure coming at him from the advancing army of high-profile antagonists, he was able to hold them at arms length and actually widen the gap to two shots as he sailed clear with a more than respectable six-birdie, one-bogey, 5-under 67 for a 54-hole tally of 16-under.

Spectacular putting was the key to his staying power. And he did it with a shorter, standard putter, not with one of the belly or broomstick putters that have been making so much news this year

The 37-year-old Swede, who has won four titles on the European Tour, but played most of his golf Stateside this year where he won one once, holed twice from 15 feet, twice from over 20 feet and from more than 30 feet at the long 14th.

Trying to become the tenth different winner in the last ten WGC events, he said: I’ve still got to shoot a really good score, but they will have to catch me. I sometimes feel a little bit stressed if I start off a few shots behind, so I prefer any time I can get a lead.

“I do feel good about my game and it’s nice to make some long putts.

“It’s a little bit of a bonus when you make the long ones, but that’s sometimes what happens in a round.

“I try not really to worry about the result too much and focus on the procedure and the shots and the routine, and where to hit the ball. That normally takes care of a lot of potential tension.”

Round of the day was a brilliant 64 from China’s 24-year-old World Number 959 Zhang Xin-jun, and his presence alongside Casey and American Bo Van Pelt on ten under should swell the crowd no end on the final day.

USA unless stated, par 72):

200 Fredrik Jacobson (Swe) 67 66 67

202 Louis Oosthuizen (RSA) 71 63 68

203 Adam Scott (Aus) 69 65 69

204 Rory McIlroy (Nirl) 70 69 65, Lee Westwood (Eng) 69 68 67

205 Graeme McDowell (Nirl) 69 69 67, Martin Kaymer (Ger) 69 68 68

206 Paul Casey (Eng) 70 66 70, Xin-jun Zhang (Chn) 74 68 64, Bo Van Pelt 67 69 70