SHANGHAI, China -- Neither rain, nor damp, overcast conditions could prevent Fredrick Jacobson from extending his lead at the HSBC Champions, the Swede distancing himself from the field with a 5-under 67 in the third round.
Having already tied the tournament's 36-hole record one day before, Jacobson birdied three of the first four holes, along with 3 more on the back nine at the Sheshan Golf Club, to finish with a 16-under-par 200 heading into Sunday's final round.
"I felt I continued playing some solid golf today, and it was nice to get off to a quick start," commented Jacobson. "Making a few birdies early kind of settled me into the round nicely. I don't think the rain was a big factor."
While Jacobson's group mates, South African Louis Oosthuizen, who shot a 4-under 68, and Australian Adam Scott, who birdied the sixteenth and seventeenth holes before an eagle on the eighteenth to finish with a 69 on the day, remain hot on his tail, just two and three strokes back respectively, the round of the day belonged to China's Zhang XinJun, who recorded eight birdies en route to an 8-under 64.
"I have very good iron play and putted very well," offered Zhang. "I hit a lot of greens in regulation and ... a lot of birdie putts today.
Zhang, who climbed 23 spots up the leader board after an impressive day-three performance, was not the only golfer to put themselves in serious contention heading into the final round, 2011 U.S. Open Champion Rory McIlroy shooting a 7-under 65 to grab a share of fourth place, tying Lee Westwood at 11-under-par, after the latter finished with a 67 on the round.
"A 65 out there is a really good score," added McIlroy, who's been the most closely-watched player in the field after winning the two-million dollar top prize at last week's Shanghai Masters. "If I can follow that up with something similar tomorrow, I might have a good chance."
Along with Zhang and McIlroy, the other big climber on the day was Venezuelan Jhonattan Vegas, who birdied five holes and eagled another for a 7-under 65, but American phenom, and PGA Player of the Year hopeful, Keegan Bradley dropped seven places after shooting an even-par 72 in a round marred by four bogeys.
Bradley now appears to be out of contention for the Shanghai title, but German Martin Kaymer and Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell still hold a slim chance of catching Jacobson, the pair sitting at 11-under-par after three rounds.