Donaldson gives himself chance to break duck as big guns misfire
Sunday 04 September 2011
Jamie Donaldson, still to taste European Tour success after 237 events over a decade, takes a one-stroke lead into the final round of the Omega European Masters in Switzerland.
The 35-year-old Welshman must overcome a stiff challenge if he is to break his duck. One behind him is Lee Westwood after the world No 2 shot a best-of-the-day 64, and two back is the US Open champion Rory McIlroy, who had bogeys at two of his last three holes.
Donaldson was a worthy intruder in the clash of the giants, after grabbing four birdies in the closing six holes for a 65 and 14-under-par total of 199.
"It will be awesome going up against two of the best players in the world at the moment," Donaldson said.
After partnering Luke Donald and Paul Casey to second place in the world amateur team championship in 2000, he suffered a serious back injury and had to go back to the qualifying school five years ago. Last season, though, he had no fewer than nine top-10 finishes and is poised now to break back into the world's top 100.
McIlroy felt he let himself down. "It was not the greatest way to finish," he said after three-putting the 16th and going over the green from a fairway bunker at the 17th despite taking an iron off the tee for safety.
One of four joint-overnight leaders, he had jumped into a two-stroke advantage with a 30-foot eagle putt from the fringe of the seventh green.
He stayed out in front by matching Westwood's birdies at the 14th and 15th, but now is playing catch-up again.
"I'm still in there with a chance and I'll be looking for a fast start and putting a bit of pressure on the boys," the Northern Irishman added. "I feel the way my game is there's a 61 or 62 out there."
Three years ago he was four clear with a round to go, but lost in a play-off after missing from five feet on the final green and from barely two feet at the second extra hole against France's Jean-Francois Lucquin.
Westwood finished off a front nine 31 with four successive birdies, but his only gains on the inward half came at the two par fives.
He is fighting a head cold which he said was affecting his balance. "I played only six holes the last two weeks, which is not really the right preparation. It was nice not to have any fives on the card and no bogeys, especially on this course because it can trip you up."
Thomas Bjorn, a winner last week, and England's Gary Boyd are only three behind – Bjorn triumphed at Gleneagles from the same position – but it was a bad day for Nick Dougherty and Simon Dyson.
First-round leader Dougherty, whose 63 set him up to make his first cut in 22 starts going back to last November, fell from one behind to 25th on six under with a second successive 72, while joint halfway leader Dyson slumped to a 74 and all the way to 34th on five under.
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