Crans Montana, Switzerland: Jamie Donaldson of Wales fired a sparkling six-under-par 65 to take the third round lead of the Omega European Masters on Saturday but has Lee Westwood and Rory McIlroy trailing closely.
Donaldson posted seven birdies against one bogey to hold a one shot lead over world number two Westwood of England with a 14-under-par 199 total in the €2 million (approximately US$2.6 million) showpiece co sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour.
Westwood battled to second place with a flawless 64, the lowest score today, while McIlroy of Northern Ireland, who bogeyed holes 16 and 17, was a further shot back on 201 at the beautiful Crans-sur-Sierre Golf Club.
Siddikur of Bangladesh and Thongchai Jaidee were the best Asian players after the third round in tied 34th place on 208. Donaldson, aiming to win his first European Tour title, birdied four of his last six holes and is not taking his lead for granted.
“Winning will depend on how I perform and I need to play one shot at a time and resort to how I’ve been playing so far. It is awesome to play with two of the greatest players in the final round.
Hopefully I can go out there and play the same like how I did these three days,” said the three-time European Challenge Tour winner. Westwood, who won the Ballantine’s Championship in Korea and inaugural Indonesian Masters on the Asian Tour this year, birdied the first hole and stamped his class with four straight birdies from six followed by a pair of birdies from the 14th hole.
He hopes to draw inspiration from his victory at the Crans-sur-Sierre in 1999. “You don’t take bad memories from here it is such a fantastic place. Probably the most beautiful place we play on Tour. It’s a joy to come here and play.”
“I’m finding a bit of form. I had two weeks off after the PGA Championship and I played six holes. That’s not the right preparation but at some point in the year you have to take a break and try and recharge the batteries,” said Westwood.
US Open champion McIlroy will move to third in the world if he wins the Omega European Masters and believes his game is sharp enough to go low. “I feel as if the way my game is there is a 61 or 62 out there and it’s just a matter of holing the putts when you need to. I did that for the most part of today but left a couple out there,” said the world number six.
McIlroy finished second in the 2008 Omega European Masters, losing only in a play-off and will be motivated to bury his demons. “I should have won in 2008 and I feel I should be leading this tournament by a bit already.
I want to go out tomorrow and play as well as I have the first three days,” said the Northern Irishman, who is highly tipped to be the future world number one. South African Horne, who missed all the cuts on the Asian Tour this year, soared into contention with a flawless round highlighted by a massive 20 feet birdie putt on the fifth hole.
“The birdie on the fifth was the turning point for me as it got the momentum going,” said Horne, who is trying to hold on to his Tour cards in Asia, Europe and Africa. “My year has been difficult. I’m trying to keep three cards and it is difficult trying to adapt to the different environment. I like playing in Asia, I’ve been playing there for about seven years and it would be great to hold on to it,” said the burly South African.
Horne admitted he is not thinking of a victory yet. “There are so many good players on top the leaderboard so winning hasn’t really been on my mind. If there were only a few of us then it might have crossed my mind but at the moment it hasn’t.”
Leading third round scores199 - Jamie DONALDSON (WLS) 68-66-65200 - Lee WESTWOOD (ENG) 67-69-64201 - Rory MCILROY (NIR) 65-69-67202 - Thomas BJORN (DEN) 68-68-66, Gary BOYD (ENG) 65-69-68203 - Keith HORNE (RSA) 71-67-65, Soren HANSEN (DEN) 71-66-66, Damian ULRICH (SUI) 69-67-67, Stephen GALLACHER (SCO) 70-66-67, Martin KAYMER (GER) 65-70-68, Danny WILLETT (ENG) 71-64-68204 - Gonzalo FDEZ-CASTANO (ESP) 70-68-66, Soren KJELDSEN (DEN) 69-67-68, Alexander NOREN (SWE) 69-67-68205 - Miguel Angel JIMENEZ (ESP) 70-68-67, Edoardo MOLINARI (ITA) 69-68-68, Peter LAWRIE (IRL) 70-66-69, David LYNN (ENG) 68-68-69, Jaco VAN ZYL (RSA) 67-68-70
Photo - Asian Tour
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