Min Woo Lee surges into lead in Abu Dhabi

Australian star Min Woo Lee has shot a 66 on moving day to forge into the joint lead of the Abu Dhabi Championship alongside two British Open winners.

MIN WOO LEE of Australia plays out of the rough during the Australian Open at Royal Sydney Golf Club in Sydney, Australia.
MIN WOO LEE of Australia plays out of the rough during the Australian Open at Royal Sydney Golf Club in Sydney, Australia. Picture: Matt King/Getty Images

Min Woo Lee has surprised even himself by shooting to the top of the leaderboard at the lucrative Abu Dhabi Championship alongside two former British Open champions.

Lee fired a brilliant six under par 66 to go into Sunday's last round locked at 13 under alongside Italy's Francesco Molinari and Irishman Shane Lowry, with a thrilling final day shootout for the $US1.53 million ($A2.20 million) first prize in prospect on the Yas Links course.

It left the 24-year-old Western Australian delighted that his hard work over the close season was beginning to pay off - quicker than he'd expected at one of the European Tour's big events.

"It was very solid," said Lee, who fired seven birdies and a single bogey in his third round on Saturday.

"The off-season work I've been doing with my coach and my team, it's started to show - I didn't think it was going to start this quick!

"My approach play has been my downfall the past couple of years, so I needed to get better in that and change my swing a little bit - but it's happy times and hopefully there's another good round tomorrow."

The fruits of his work were quickly there for all to see as Lee began by nearly holing in one at the 212-yard fourth, arrowing his tee shot to just 15 inches from the hole.

He birdied all the four par-5s, including the 18th which he'd bogeyed the previous two days.

At the end of his round, Lee was a shot clear of the field but overnight leader Molinari, the 2018 British Open champ, shot a 69 and Lowry, Claret Jug winner in 2019, fired a 66 to join him at the top of the leaderboard.

Lee has been on a good run, with six top-12 finishes in a row but without a win since July 2021 at the Scottish Open, which has left him hungry to convert one of those fine weeks into a win.

"I've been playing awesome and those close losses have been when someone's really being playing well - Jon Rahm at the Spanish Open and Adrian (Meronk at the Australian Open)," he told Sky Sports.

"Hopefully, I can be that guy who's playing better tomorrow. I shaved a few edges of the holes today and hopefully they'll drop tomorrow."

Lee's Western Australian colleague Jason Scrivener, who'd been just a shot off the lead going into the third round, slipped down to joint-16th after a level-par 72 as he was the only player in the top 20 not to break par.

Lowry made a big move too after beginning the day three off the lead, his highlight coming with a hole-out eagle from the sixth fairway from 162 yards.

Lurking just a shot behind the co-leaders are Scot Grant Forrest, France's Victor Perez and Swede Sebastian Soderberg while three-time major champion Padraig Harrington, who shot a 64, is in the four-strong group another stroke back.