Golf: Greens favour Leaney

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The Independent Online
STEPHEN LEANEY, an Australian who only arrived in London from Sydney on Tuesday and then flew straight on to Agadir, has a marvellous chance of winning his first European Tour victory at the Moroccan Open today. Leaney, 29, shot a third-round 69 for a 12-under-par total of 204 and has a four-shot lead over the field.

Mark Davis, from Essex and the Swedes Robert Karlsson and Mathias Gronberg are the closest, and probably only, challengers to Leaney as Thomas Gogele of Germany and Ollie Karlsson, another Swede, lie a further three shots behind them and seven off the leader.

Des Smyth had a dismal day. The 45-year-old Irishman began yesterday playing the last hole of his second round as joint leader on nine-under- par with Leaney but bogeyed the hole to lose his lead . Then he had a disastrous third round of 77 for a 213 total to trail the Australian leader by nine shots.

Davis, who was lying third overnight, looked as if he would follow Smyth into virtual oblivion when he was eight shots off the pace with seven holes to play. But he recovered with four birdies in the last seven holes, including three twos, to shoot a level par 72 for 208 to close the gap.

Leaney, however, has only to maintain his present form to take the first prize of pounds 58,330 - on this difficult course he is the only player to have shot below 70 in each round with successive scores of 68, 67 and 69.

Leaney said: "I only arrived in London on Tuesday and I was glad I was first off on the opening day - I was wide awake with jet-lag. I've been playing pretty well for some months. I played the whole summer in Australia and had three top-10 finishes and ended 12th on the Order of Merit. I've won two Victorian Opens, one from behind and one leading from the front.

"My aim is to hit as many greens as I can. This course is so tight it is difficult to be aggressive. With a four-shot cushion I will be difficult to catch if I can play consistently."