Thrilling finish on the cards as six of the best share lead
The winner of the opening edition of Oman Open in 2018, Joost Luiten of the Netherlands, is among the six golfers who are tied at the top as a thrilling finish awaits the 2020 Oman Open at the Al Mouj Golf on Sunday.
The six were tied at the top of the US$1.75mn European Tour event on 11 under par, and included Rolex Series winner Brandon Stone of South Africa.
Luiten had a bogey-free 67 on day three on Saturday and had plenty of company at the top with Finnish rookie Sami Valimaki carding a stunning 64, one shot better than countryman Mikko Korhonen who was also at 11 under. England's Callum Shinkwin bogeyed the last in his 66 to drop out of the solo lead, with Stone carding a 67 and Danish teenager Rasmus Højgaard signing for a 70 to complete the leading sextet.
Luiten, who is searching for a seventh European Tour title this week, got off to a fast start with a birdie at the first before reeling off ten consecutive pars. He turned it up a gear on the back nine with four more birdies.
“I had a good start with the birdie at the first but after that I just didn’t hole any putts,” said Luiten. “I created a lot of chances but they just wouldn’t drop. The funny thing is I had putts that were further away on Nos 11 and 12 and they went in which kickstarted my round. It always helps when you have won the tournament before but I think winning in general helps you go through the motions.
“I’m just going to enjoy it; you’ve got to enjoy the tension that comes with trying to win. I love it here and feel comfortable so I just need to make sure I play simple golf tomorrow.”
Stone bids for a first title since winning the Scottish Open in 2018. “It was a very solid round that was very consistent and to be bogey-free again is sensational for me,” said the South African.
“It’s been three amazing days on a great golf course with plenty of good scoring. I’ll probably head to the gym tonight and do some recovery work and maybe have a cup of coffee and an early dinner.”
Joining the duo at the summit is Shinkwin, Valimaki, Korhonen and Hojgaard. Hojgaard had started the day tied for the lead with Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher but suffered a setback on the sixth and seventh holes with a bogey and double bogey before superbly bouncing back with three birdies in a row.
“It was a grind out there today,” said the 18 year old. “I made some mistakes out there but bounced back with some birdies so I’m satisfied with my two under par. It was important for me to get those three birdies in a row after dropping three shots on the sixth and seventh. You can make bogeys out here so you just have to deal with it and move on.
“I think it’s important that I’ve already won on the European Tour as there is going to be plenty of stress out there tomorrow. It’s just about how you can handle it and I think I’ll be prepared.”
Korhonen has two victories to his name, while Højgaard became the third youngest winner in European Tour history when he lifted the trophy at the Mauritius Open earlier this season.
Shinkwin is looking for his first title after bogeying the last and losing in a playoff at the 2017 Scottish Open, and Valimaki is playing just his sixth European Tour event after coming through the Qualifying School.
Guido Migliozzi sits one shot back in seventh while Clement Sordet, Jordan Smith, Adrienne Saddier sit a shot further back in tied eighth.
The trio sit a shot ahead of Finn Kalle Samooja and two clear of Gallacher - who came home in 40 - two time Major champion Martin Kaymer,
Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts and England's Robert Rock. Muscat Daily is the official media partner of the event.