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Justin Rose throws away two-shot lead to trail Tony Finau after third round of WGC HSBC Champions in Shanghai

Rose double-bogeyed the 17th and bogeyed the 18th after a fine start to his third round - AP
Rose double-bogeyed the 17th and bogeyed the 18th after a fine start to his third round - AP

Justin Rose strolled to the 17th tee with a two-shot lead over playing partner Tony Finau in the third round of the WGC HSBC Champions and a return to world No 1 loomed tantalisingly in the distance. However, the Englishman walked off the green trailing by three.

It was a dramatic, five-shot turnaround to conclude Saturday's play at the $10m event in Shanghai. Rose, who had earlier birdied four of the first eight holes to overhaul Finau’s three-shot overnight advantage, double-bogeyed the 17th and bogeyed the 18th for a 70. The American, meanwhile, finished birdie-birdie and strode off with his confidence restored on 13-under after a 70.

Rose fell back into a three-way tie for second alongside Patrick Reed and Xander Schauffele, with two shots further back to Tommy Fleetwood following a 72. 

“Tough finish,” Rose said. “I missed it in the spot you can't miss it on 17 and that's such a disaster of an area. You can't drop it. You can't chip it. You can't do anything down there. So that took about half an hour. But I played well today.”

Rose could reclaim top place in the rankings if he was to finish outright second and Brooks Koepka was worse that 12th but the defending champion has set his eights on retaining the crown.   

“I've got to go out tomorrow and shoot maybe something in the mid 60s and see if I can chase Tony down,” Rose said. Obviously, there's three guys at 10-under who are all going to be chasing pretty hard but nothing to lose tomorrow. It's going to take a good round. I'm playing well, feeling good. Just got to put that last couple holes behind me and come out a little bit angry tomorrow.”