Sergio Garcia, the man who sparked a week of controversy and soul-searching at the BMW PGA Championship, was back in the business of accumulation yesterday, which cannot have been ideal viewing for the organisers. Emerging from the bad-joke and grim-weather gulag that was the opening two days at Wentworth, Garcia shot a 68 in blessed sunshine to create interest among the galleries and an uncomfortable stir in the boardroom.
Garcia starts the final round today in a share of seventh place, just four off the lead; a marvellous prospect at the start of the week, somewhat less enticing after the curveball question intended to spread mirth at a black-tie dinner on Tuesday evinced the racist blight that wreaked such havoc across this genteel setting.
As many a golfer will tell you, four shots on the final day is a deficit frequently erased. A victory for Lee Westwood would therefore do very nicely for the event's stakeholders as well as the player. Westwood has more than 40 wins worldwide, but none as grand as this. His third-round 67 lifted him into second spot on eight under par, one behind the leader, Alejandro Canizares.
Westwood cautioned against celebrating before the pot was in his hands, but conceded that his game is good enough on a course he likes. "It would feel great. I'm after as many wins as I can get, no matter where they are. And this is a course I've enjoyed playing and it's suited me.
"So it wouldn't surprise me, but I'm far from holding the trophy up. I'm in a good position and will have to play as well or better than I played today."
The sun bathed Wentworth in belated spring heat, but it was the warmth in the audience that Garcia appreciated most. "There's no doubt that everybody has made it so much easier for me. The crowds here, I don't have words to explain what I feel towards them. They have been amazing, every single tee, every single green, cheering me on. I can never pay them back. It's been a tough week but we've been getting better every day, so hopefully we can finish on a high note."
The home support will be behind Westwood, who relocated to the United States last December in search of form and fortune only to arrive at the cusp of a first win of the year on British soil. He was rattling the cup as early as the second after firing his tee-shot to eight feet. The disappointment of a horseshoe exit would disappear two holes later with an eagle at the first of the par-fives.
The long holes had troubled him most in the early part of the season in the US. However, he appears to have cracked the problem now, a birdie at the 12th to reach seven under par confirming his comfort in the bombing zone, while another at the penultimate hole has set him up perfectly for today's assault on the summit.
Meanwhile, Eddie Pepperell, the 22-year-old Challenge Tour rookie from Abingdon, managed his day admirably in the third-last group, posting a 71 to close alongside Garcia on five under par. Justin Rose, who was in the third group out, shot a 69 to creep into red numbers on one under.