SOTOGRANDE, Spain, Nov 3 (Reuters) Briton Justin Rose came back from a bad start at Valderrama today to maintain his hold on the Volvo Masters and Europe's order of merit.
Rose dropped three shots over the first two holes of the third round to allow his rival Padraig Harrington to wipe out a four-shot overnight lead.
However, Rose had fully repaired the damage by the 11th hole and by the end of the round, with his Irish opponent playing ragged golf at times, was again four shots ahead of Harrington going into tomorrow's final round, having carded a level-par 71 for a four-under 209 total.
Harrington, after a similar 71, his third of the week, now shares second place with Britain's Simon Dyson.
Dyson three-putted the 17th for par and the 18th for bogey and 69 to deny himself second place on his own.
Germany's Martin Kaymer, favourite for Europe's rookie of the year award, hauled himself up to a share of fourth place on three over with the best round of the week, a 66.
Rose began calamitously, coming up woefully short on the first from the middle of the fairway and needing three more shots to get down, while Harrington made a 15-foot birdie putt after driving into the treeline.
That halved Rose's overnight lead. When the Briton then hit through the second green and needed four more shots to hole out, the rivals for the money-list title were level.
THREE BIRDIES Harrington found water on the long fifth to bogey, however, while Rose nosed back in front by scrambling par from near the rocks at the hazard.
A birdie at the next by Harrington put the pair level but three birdies in the four holes around the turn allowed Rose to take charge again.
''I'm delighted to still be four ahead after that start,'' Rose told a news conference. ''After the second I was a bit shell-shocked.
''At the third tee, though, I told myself I was still sharing the lead so get on with it. My caddie reminded me that sometimes I'm good when my back's against the wall. It was either get over it or ruin the whole round.
''Two years ago I would have panicked but this time I took stock and regrouped.'' With money-list leader Ernie Els not in Spain, Rose is determined to complete the job by claiming the season-ending title. Harrington is just 667 euro in front of him on the money list.
''Win here tomorrow and win both,'' said Rose. ''This is not an opportunity that presents itself that often. The realisation came to me last week that I really wanted it.'' Harrington said he admired the way Rose had fought back.
''It's in his hands tomorrow,'' the British Open champion and European number one said.
REUTERS RJ KP2244