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Manley claims 1-stroke lead in Hong Kong
Fanling, Hong Kong (SportsNetwork.com) - Stuart Manley carded a 4-under 66 on Saturday to claim a 1-stroke lead at the end of three rounds of the Hong Kong Open.
Manley finished 54 holes at Hong Kong Golf Club at 10-under-par 200. He is searching for his first career victory on the European Tour.
"I've led quite a few times on the Challenge Tour, so hopefully that will put me in good stead for tomorrow," said Manley. "There will be a few nerves early on I think, but I'm swinging so well that if I can be committed to the golf shot I'll be fine and just enjoy it."
Shiv Kapur and Wade Ormsby also shot 66s to share second place at 9-under, while defending champion Miguel Angel Jimenez, Steve Webster and Jose Manuel Lara all carded 5-under 65s to sit in a tie for fourth at 8-under 202.
Joel Sjoholm (65), Prom Meesawat (67) and Alex Cejka (68) occupied seventh place at 7-under 203.
Jbe Kruger entered the third round with a 1-stroke lead, but quickly lost that advantage with a bogey at the first to fall to 6-under and into a tie with Manley, Jaakko Makitalo, Sjoholm and Meesawat.
Kruger bounced back with a birdie at the third to reclaim the outright lead, but he would eventually be met atop the leaderboard by Manley, Sjoholm and Oliver Fisher.
Sjoholm reached 7-under by capping his bogey-free round with a birdie at the 18th to claim the clubhouse lead.
Manley then lost his share of the lead with a bogey at the sixth before Webster birdied three straight from the 12th to take his share of first place.
But Manley atoned for his mistake by rolling in a lengthy birdie putt at the seventh to move back to minus-7 and make it a five-way tie for the lead.
Kruger would fall apart from there, as he bogeyed the ninth to drop a shot off the pace, and later tripped to a double-bogey 6 at the 11th to fall further behind.
Manley, meanwhile, stuck his tee shot at the par-3 eighth to within inches of the hole and kicked in that short birdie effort to pull ahead of the pack at 8-under.
The top of the leaderboard would remain cluttered when Webster recorded his fourth birdie in a five-hole span at the 16th, Lara birdied three straight from the 13th and Jimenez posted back-to-back gains at the 13th and 14th to all join Manley at 8-under.
Manley, however, would again break ahead of the pack with a birdie at the 10th, and then added another birdie at the 13th to move two clear of the field at 10-under.
The Welshman fell back to 9-under with a bogey at the 16th and was joined there when Kapur and Ormsby both closed their rounds with birdies at the 18th, but Manley reclaimed sole possession of first with about a 10-foot birdie at the 17th.
Manley parred the last to hang on to his 1-stroke lead heading into the final round.
"Pretty much from the first hole onwards, every iron shot was right down the pin," Manley said. "If it had been a good day on the greens it could have been a really low round, so it was disappointing not to capitalize. But I feel very confident the way I'm playing and I'm really excited about tomorrow."
NOTES: Manley's best finish on tour was ninth place at the 2010 Iberdrola Open Cala Millor Mallorca ... Jimenez, who also won this event in 2005 and 2008, can join Hsieh Yung-yo as the only four-time winners of this event with a victory this week ... Roope Kakko recorded a hole-in-one at the second ... Kruger finished with a 3-over 73 to fall into a share of 21st place at 4-under 206 ... Kapur and Ormsby are also searching for their first career win on the European Tour.
12/07 04:57:57 ET