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Chris Wood two clear heading in to Sunday

Chris Wood, who burst on to the scene with top-five finishes at the 2008 and 2009 British Opens, was in pole position to seize his maiden victory after the PGA Championship third round on Saturday.

The tall, mop-haired Briton rolled in a 25-foot birdie putt at the 16th before playing a delicate greenside bunker shot to within inches of the cup at the last to save his par and record a 67 for 205, eight under par.

That left Wood, 22, two ahead of countryman Danny Willett (70) and Swede Robert Karlsson, who after flying home to Monaco on Friday believing he had missed the cut, fired a course record 62 having rushed back in time for his 0855 teeoff at Wentworth.

Wood, who started his round much later in the day, described Karlsson’s performance as “pretty awesome”.

“I couldn’t quite believe it when I saw it on the leaderboard by the practice putting green,” the 6-foot-5 Englishman told reporters on another baking hot day at the European Tour’s flagship event.

“I looked at his card and kept seeing birdies.”

Wood played alongside Padraig Harrington and said it was a big help to partner the triple major winner.

“I never really felt like I played my best,” said the youngster who finished tied fifth in the 2008 Open and joint third at the same championship a year later. “I just scored really well today.

“I played with the ultimate grinder (Harrington). No matter how he plays he never gives up and you sort of look up to a player like that.”

Wood said he was keen to achieve his breakthrough victory in his second full year on the tour.

“I have had some good results but everyone’s looking to win,” he said. “I feel my game’s been there but it’s just not quite happened.”

Asked if he would cut his long, blond hair if he landed the first prize of 750,000 euros ($937,800) on Sunday, Wood laughed: “No, the girls love it. That is what’s going to make me keep it.”

Karlsson managed only three hours sleep inbetween his long round trip but proved he was wide awake, racking up nine birdies in a flawless effort to establish the lowest round in the PGA Championship, dating back to 1955.

“It was quite funny at breakfast because (Dane) Soren Hansen said, ‘This trip has a 63 or something written all over it’,” said the 2008 European number one.

Karlsson was livid with himself 24 hours earlier after a double-bogey seven at the 18th left him on three-over 145, right on the cut mark.

“It feels like I definitely got another chance today,” said the 40-year-old. “I was sure I was out but in a situation where I just made the cut, I could just go out and play and enjoy it.”

Briton Luke Donald, the overnight leader, carded a 72 as he finished in fourth place on 208, two ahead of a cluster of players including Harrington and holder Paul Casey.

South African Ernie Els, who redesigned the new-look West Course, wrecked his title hopes by slumping to a 76 for 215.

Scores

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