Peter Hanson suspects that nothing less than his top form will do if he is to stop Rory McIlroy winning for a fifth time this year in Shanghai today.
“I have to bring my A-game to beat him – he looks very motivated, very focused,” the Swede said after a third-round 70 at the BMW Masters left him only one ahead of his Ryder Cup team-mate.
All four of the world No.1’s victories this season have come in America, including the second eight-shot major win of his career, but he is back now on the same Lake Malaren course where he pocketed the Shanghai Masters – and a first prize of £1.25 million – 12 months ago.
This time the winner’s cheque is “only” £721,000, but it would give McIlroy a huge lead in the European Tour money list race with only four more weeks to go. He already has the PGATour title in the bag.
He shared the lead when Hanson had three bogeys in five holes from the fourth, but the 35-year-old came back with four birdies to reach 16 under par.
McIlroy matched two of them and also holed a 14-foot putt on the 16th, but he then lipped out from nine feet at the short next and also parred the last for a 69.
“Conditions were a bit trickier,” said the 23-year-old Northern Irish star. “They moved a few tees around and the wind was up a bit and from a different direction.
“You had to think about it a bit more, but I kept myself in the tournament and it’s always nice to go out in the last group on the last day. I’ll go out there and give it my all.”
South African George Coetzee, yet to win on the European Tour, was three off the pace after a 65 took him from eighth to third on his own.
Six players were two strokes further back: Ryder Cup pair Justin Rose and Luke Donald, Swede Alex Noren, South Africa’s 2011 Masters champion Charl Schwartzel and Irish duo Shane Lowry and Michael Hoey.
Rose, second to McIlroy on the Race to Dubai standings, also shot 69.
Donald’s chances nosedived after he went in the water and took six on the reachable long 13th. Medinah heroes Ian Poulter and Martin Kaymer were seven and six back.