Golf: Qatar not a problem for Sherborne

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GIVEN that Andrew Sherborne was shocked to see a television documentary describing his home town, Portishead near Bristol, as one of the worst areas for drugs in Britain, it might be wrong to term this likeable golfer as streetwise. "I've never seen anything. It's been blown up out of proportion," he said.

Sherborne, though, is certainly fairway-wise after 13 years on tour and knows a two-stroke advantage going into the final round of the Qatar Masters is no sure thing. Andrew Coltart and Sweden's Patrik Sjoland are his closest challengers, with Ian Woosnam among those tied for fourth on 10 under.

After a third round of 68, Sherborne is at 15 under thanks to three birdies in the last four. The set-up of this Doha course makes a strong finish eminently possible so the call to pray that goes up every afternoon should not be confused for a fat lady putting in an early appearance.

"Anything can happen over those last three holes," Sherborne said. "A two, two, three finish is very possible." After a first bogey of the week at the 11th, where his approach caught a bunker, Sherborne holed from 30 feet for a birdie at the 15th. Having already sunk putts of 25 feet at the first and third, he has taken to the grainy Bermuda greens far better than most.

The fun starts at the 16th, a short par-four which is downwind and driveable. However, a huge limestone rock blocks the green and any ball pitching on it can be deflected far into the desert. This was what happened to Anders Forsbrand with his ball coming to rest in a clump of grass. This being professional golf, instead of your Sunday morning game, Forsbrand got a free drop for line of sight relief from a leaderboard, pitched on and holed the putt for a birdie.

During the lengthy delay it took for the ruling to be confirmed, Sherborne hit a beautiful tee shot, drawing it round the rock and leaving his eagle putt from 45 feet just short. The par-three 17th failed to yield to him, but a drive and a five-wood put him on the green at the par-five last and again his 15-foot attempt died in the jaws of the hole.

The best finish of the day came from Lee Westwood, who chipped in twice in his birdie, birdie, eagle finale. The young Englishman shot a 66, but at seven under is too far back to trouble Sherborne, twice a winner on tour at the 1991 Madrid Open and the 1992 Spanish Open.

If he is trying to convince himself Qatar has a resemblance to Spain, then Coltart, who birdied both 16 and 18 in his bogey-free 65, must be thinking the Middle East is in some way connected to the Australian continent. That he has yet to win on the European tour is a fact the Scot is trying not to think about.

Woosnam has twice denied Coltart victories and could do again although the Welshman did not make up as much ground as he hoped with a 69. Two under at the turn, Woosnam reached the par-five 10th in two, a feat that so surprised the 40-year-old that he gave himself a greater shock and three-putted.

"I'm five behind, that is nothing on this course," he said. "If the wind blows then I will have to play well to have a chance, but if it is calm I'll need a 64, but that is on around here."