Who is Scott Jamieson and how is he fending off so many top players in Abu Dhabi?

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ABU DHABI — He’s not going away. Not yet anyway. For three days now, well-known names have clustered around the top of the leader board in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. And that is the case with 18 holes to play. Shane Lowry, Viktor Hovland, Ian Poulter and Adam Scott are all within five shots of first place after 54 holes on the testing 7,425-yard Yas Links layout. But they have all been looking up at the same man at the end of each round: Scott Jamieson.

Making two birdies in his last four holes for four-under 68, the 38-year-old Scot is on 11-under 205 so far. Lowry and former NCAA champion Thomas Pieters sit second, one shot back. But as many as 12 others will harbor varying degrees of hope come the final round. Hovland is alongside Shubhankar Sharma of India, two shots further away from the leader.

Jamieson, who attended Augusta State and makes his home in Florida, has had a solid but relatively unspectacular career. In 299 previous starts on the DP World Tour, he has but one victory, at the 2012 Nelson Mandela Championship. Last year, he pulled up in 108th place on the Race to Dubai. Right now he is 336th on the World Ranking. En route, he has accumulated earnings of €5,745,592, a total that would be boosted by $1,330,000 should he make it four consecutive days in the lead at the end of Sunday’s play.

That isn’t as unlikely as it might seem. In each of his last three visits to the largest of the United Arab Emirates, Jamieson has posted top-20 finishes. The next step is a big one though. And identifying the final ingredient to make that leap is clearly something he is aware of.

“It’s a great question,” Jamieson said. “And if I knew the answer I maybe would have won more often. All I can do is play whatever shot is in front of me. I’m going to use all those clichés, stay in the moment and just try and hit the best shot I can. It would be a massive win for me though, a game changer to win a tournament of this stature. But there are some great champions chasing me, and there’s an awful long way to go.”

Should Jamieson falter, there will be no shortage of candidates to claim the distinctive trophy. Perhaps the most dangerous is Lowry. Despite playing only nine holes of golf in “six or seven weeks” before and after Christmas and with only a week of practice in Florida behind him, the 2019 Open champion was making understandably positive noises after shooting a bogey-free 67. He even found time to laugh at his folly on the 18th, when he aimed at the wrong advertising sign behind the green with his second shot and nearly lost it in a penalty area.

“I’m driving the ball well and in play,” said the Irishman. “And my iron play has been decent. I like the look of the course. I like the way it fits my eye. The scoring is in the area that I like best. If you shoot 69 out there you’ve had a pretty good day. There are plenty of weeks on the PGA Tour that are just shoot-outs. But this is a week for patience.

“You need to know where you’re going out there,” Lowry continued. “You need to know where the misses are. That’s key on a course like this. You have to know where you are going to have a chance to recover. You have to be clever about how you play. You get better at that as you get older and play around the world on different courses. You have to wait for your run of birdies. And I’ve done that very well this week. So far at least, this has been a nice way to start the year for me.”

Further down the leader board, Rory McIlroy’s 67 matched that of Lowry, Pieters, Shubhankar, Bernd Wiesberger and Romain Langasque for best of the day. But the Northern Irishman remains well out of contention. Hs sits T-28 on two-under par, nine shots off the pace.

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