Golf: Parnevik still setting the pace as Stewart takes up challenge

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The Independent Online
JESPER PARNEVIK today takes a seven-stroke lead into the final round of the Bell's Scottish Open and will be paired with Payne Stewart, his closest challenger. 'I don't know anything about the fellow,' Stewart said. 'I've had trouble pronouncing his name.' Parnevik knows all about the flamboyant American who has won two major titles and millions of dollars.

If the 36-year-old Stewart is infinitely more experienced than the 28- year-old Swede there is also no question as to who has the bigger heart. Stewart discovered earlier this season that he has an enlarged heart and a pulse rate of 42 beats a minute. 'That would be great if I was a marathon runner,' he said. 'My cardiologist told me I could be a candidate for a pacemaker in future years but all that's happened is that it's made me more conscious of my health. I want to live to be 100.'

Stewart, the 1991 US Open champion and second to Lee Janzen in his national championship at Baltusrol three weeks ago, has been warned off alcohol. 'Win, lose or draw here I'm going to have a Scotch,' he said. 'But I won't have four or five.' Parnevik has been the front-runner over the King's Course. He led by seven strokes after the second round and he still leads by seven on a leaderboard that has only three other players, Stewart, Sandy Lyle and Sam Torrance, under par for the championship.

Yesterday Parnevik maintained the status quo with a round of 70 and again his performance over the back nine was impressive. He recovered from bogeys at the seventh and eighth and came home in 33. Stewart, wearing the colours of the Washington Redskins, adopted the appearance of a psychologist when he talked about the prospects of the fourth round. 'It's going to be very tough for him to win his first tournament,' he said, managing to avoid pronouncing Parnevik's name. 'I'm sure he'll be nervous. He's going to have to learn to deal with that.'

Parnevik has been dealing with it magnificently so far and anyone who wins the qualifying school, as he did in 1988, knows about pressure. Admittedly this is a different proposition - pounds 100,000 to the winner and, more importantly, for Parnevik a place in the Open Championship at Royal St George's next week - but he is not playing like a man who is about to squander something he has dreamt of.

Parnevik, who has never played in the Open and who has never led a European Tour event, said: 'I have won tournaments hundreds of times in my mind. You live in a fantasy world and it's nice to have the opportunity to make it come true. It's going to be fun otherwise it's not worth doing it. I have a tough time playing safe.'

Stewart's 67 contained four birdies and one bogey. That came at the 16th where he found a bunker and at the 17th he chipped in from 25 feet. Lyle, paired with Stewart, said: 'There can't be much wrong with his heart. He holed a lot of pressure putts.' Lyle, who shot 69, insists he is not out of it. 'It's not impossible,' he said. He proved it at the Phoenix Open five years ago when he came from seven strokes behind to win.

In previous years the King's Course has been dictated to by its subjects but in the last few days it has played to every inch of its 6,739 yards. The principal difference has been the presence of a capricious wind that has made club selection a risky business and putting a daunting prospect. 'You can't trust the wind,' Parnevik said. 'It keeps changing.' On the 14th hole he was so bemused he cut a three- iron into the crowd and his ball ricocheted off a spectator.

Twelve months ago the half-way cut was made at two under par; this time it was seven over. Australia's Peter O'Malley won it last year with an aggregate of 18 under par; this time he missed the cut. Paul Curry, who set a course record of 60 last year, shot 80 on Wednesday, although he did have an excuse. An official warned him about slow play and then apologised for picking on the wrong group.

SCOTTISH OPEN (Gleneagles) Leading third-round scores (GB or Irl unless stated): 200 J Parnevik (Swe) 64 66 70. 207 P Stewart (US) 71 69 67. 209 S Lyle 73 67 69; S Torrance 73 65 71. 210 G Evans 69 68 73; B Marchbank 73 67 70. 211 J Rivero (Sp) 77 66 68; D Cooper 72 71 68; P Baker 69 74 68; C O'Connor Jnr 71 70 70; R Lee 67 71 73. 212 D Clarke 69 73 70. 213 M Roe 73 72 68; P Way 69 74 70; S Bowman (US) 73 69 71; E O'Connell 77 65 71; S Luna (Sp) 71 70 72; R Boxall 73 68 72; R Chapman 69 71 73; C Mason 72 67 74. 214 B Barnes 70 76 68; J Haeggman (Swe) 73 73 68; S Richardson 73 71 70; B Lane 75 69 70; G Orr 70 72 72. 215 D Waldorf (US) 72 75 68; P Broadhurst 76 70 69. 216 S Field 76 71 69; S Struver (Ger) 72 75 69; C Cassells 73 74 69; D J Russell 75 72 69; R Davis (Aus) 73 73 70; H Baiocchi (SA) 70 76 70; G J Brand 73 73 70; M Lanner (Swe) 72 73 71; P Fowler (Aus) 71 73 72; J Rystrom (Swe) 72 72 72; J van de Velde (Fr) 72 71 73; R Mann 70 73 73; A Webster 73 69 74; E Romero (Arg) 72 70 74.

Players have been warned by the R & A that if their clubs do not conform to specifications they could be outlawed from the Open Championship. Paul Eales fell foul of the warning at Gleaneagles yesterday when the grooves on his six and seven-irons were found to be too close together.