Higgins nine off the pace in Hong Kong
 Stuart Manley leads the Hong Kong Open by a stroke with a round to go. Picture © Getty Images

Stuart Manley leads the Hong Kong Open by a stroke with a round to go. Picture © Getty Images

David Higgins slipped nine shots behind Welshman Stuart Manley heading into the final round of the Hong Kong Open at Fanling.

As Manley put himself in pole position to win his first European Tour title with a classy four under par 66 in the third round, the Waterville man made an eagle, two birdies, three bogeys and a double bogey six in a one over 71 to find himself tied for 41st on one under par.

At ten under par, Manley leads by one shot from Indian Shiv Kapur and Australian Wade Ormsby with JoséManuel Lara and defending champion Miguel Angel Jiménez lurking at eight under alongside England’s Steve Webster.

Manley has had an eventful few weeks since earning his European Tour card at the Qualifying School Final Stage, hitting the headlines at the ISPS Handa World Cup of Golf in Australia when he had a hole-in-one followed immediately by an 11.

Despite feeling a little fatigued from all the long-distance travel – he played last week in South Africa, too – the 34 year old is excited about what lies in store in Sunday’s final round at Hong Kong Golf Club.

“Pretty much from the first hole onwards, every iron shot was right down the pin,” said Manley, who reached the turn in two under par and added three more birdies against one bogey on the back nine.

“If it had been a good day on the greens it could have been a really low round, so it was disappointing not to capitalise, but I feel very confident the way I'm playing and I’m really excited about tomorrow.

“I was really unlucky on the 16th, when I landed the ball in the perfect position but it hit the sprinkler and went to the back of the green. That was disappointing, but I was pleased to get back to ten under with a birdie at the 17th.

“I wanted to be leading after three rounds, and I wanted to be in the last group, so I'm delighted. There’s a lot of golf left, but winning would mean the world.”

Jiménez, Kapur and Ormsby all birdied the tricky par four 18th to limit Manley’s advantage, but it was a day to forget for second round leader Jbe Kruger, who struggled to a three over par 73.

Jiménez became the oldest winner in European Tour history when he triumphed here last year, and he added: “I hope I can keep hitting the ball the way I'm hitting it and knock in some putts to get the victory here, I would love it. I love this golf course.”

200 S Manley (Wal) 67 67 66,

201 S Kapur (Ind) 69 66 66, W Ormsby (Aus) 67 68 66,

202 J Lara (Esp) 69 68 65, M Jiménez (Esp) 70 67 65, S Webster (Eng) 71 66 65,

203 P Meesawat (Tha) 66 70 67, A Cejka (Ger) 68 67 68, J Sjöholm (Swe) 68 70 65,

204 U Park (Aus) 71 66 67, J Makitalo (Fin) 67 71 66, A Que (Phi) 69 67 68, R Derksen (Ned) 69 67 68, DLipsky (USA) 69 68 67,

205 R Finch (Eng) 70 67 68, D Kataoka (Jpn) 68 68 69, J Randhawa (Ind) 72 67 66, O Fisher (Eng) 68 70 67, A Lahiri (Ind) 68 70 67, A Pavan (Ita) 65 72 68,

206 G Havret (Fra) 71 70 65, N Elvira (Esp) 67 72 67, E Kofstad (Nor) 68 68 70, J Carlsson (Swe) 70 70 66, JColomo (Esp) 72 66 68, B Ruangkit (Tha) 69 67 70, R Kakko (Fin) 71 66 69, J Kruger (RSA) 67 66 73,

207 J Morrison (Eng) 71 67 69, P Pittayarat (Tha) 69 70 68, S Chowrasia (Ind) 68 69 70, J Campillo (Esp) 73 65 69, H Rai (Ind) 72 67 68, S Benson (Eng) 66 72 69, C Phadungsil (Tha) 68 71 68,

208 A Dodt (Aus) 66 70 72, A Da Silva (Bra) 71 70 67, B Paolini (USA) 70 68 70, K Gi-Whan (Kor) 70 69 69, DIm (USA) 71 66 71, C Plaphol (Tha) 69 70 69,

209 H Wen-Yi (Chn) 72 69 68, A Byeong-Hun (Kor) 69 69 71, D Higgins (Irl) 64 74 71, R Karlberg (Swe) 69 68 72, M Fraser (Aus) 68 69 72, C Doak (Sco) 68 68 73, E Molinari (Ita) 72 69 68, A Wall (Eng) 71 70 68,

210 R Cabrera-Bello (Esp) 70 71 69, T Olesen (Den) 69 71 70, C Lam (Sin) 66 72 72, J Knutzon (USA) 70 71 69, L Bjerregaard (Den) 70 67 73,

211 T Chuayprakong (Tha) 69 72 70, S Henry (Sco) 68 72 71, A Lascuna (Phi) 72 69 70, L Sung (Kor) 70 70 71, P Junhasavasdikul (Tha) 73 68 70, J Hahn (USA) 70 68 73, D Drysdale (Sco) 72 68 71, A Sullivan (Eng) 70 71 70, L Wei-Chih (Tpe) 69 72 70, A Forsyth (Sco) 68 72 71, C Paisley (Eng) 71 70 70,

212 S Singh (Ind) 66 73 73, C Nirat (Tha) 71 70 71, A Levy (Fra) 70 70 72,

213 T Tang (Hkg) 71 70 72, L Wen-Tang (Tpe) 74 64 75,

214 J Pagunsan (Phi) 71 70 73, G Stal (Fra) 70 71 73,

215 S Hend (Aus) 70 70 75,

216 M Joong-Kyung (Kor) 70 70 76,

217 D Brooks (Eng) 69 71 77