Olazabal tips Westwood, Donald and Molinari to lead the way at Lytham

 

Castle Stuart

When Jose Maria Olazabal, this year's European Ryder Cup captain, was asked to play pundit and name the players who he felt could win The Open Championship at Royal Lytham, he stood by three of the men who are likely to be members of his team to take on the Americans at Medinah in September.

Noting that the Lancashire links is littered with some 270 bunkers, many of which require their victims to play out sideways, he also chose to talk about players who control a golf ball rather than bomb it.

Lee Westwood, the English world No 3, was the first name out of the hat because Olazabal felt he had as good a control of the golf ball with his long game as any of the current world top players. And he added in his words "the usual suspects, Luke Donald and Francesco Molinari".

At the end of last week Westwood was to be found working with his coach, Pete Cowen, at Lytham, but Olazabal reckoned his putting might still hold him back from improving on his 2012 major performances to date, of third at the Masters and 10th at the US Open. He could also have mentioned that the Englishmen looked some way from his best when he finished tied for 40th place at the French Open a week ago.

The choice of Donald was interesting, since the world No 1 missed the cut at the US Open. Last night, after shooting a third-round 68 in the Scottish Open, Donald was talking up his chances, despite having played three poor iron shots which cost him bogeys while everyone else was making birdies by the sackful.

Donald was particularly content with two aspects of the game he will take with him from Inverness to Lytham tomorrow – his driving and a new mental approach.

"I felt very comfortable on the tee." he said. "More comfortable than for a long time. My swing was out of kilter at the US Open but now it is getting very close to where I want it to be and I am really excited about it. All the hard work I have put in up here is starting to pay off."

In between visits to the range at Castle Stuart, Donald has also been working with the English mental coach Dave Alred on a new mindset to take into the biggest tournaments. "I feel more in control of how I want to feel, instead of letting my feelings take control of me," he said. "In the past going to majors I have been anxious and excited, but this time I will be going to Lytham feeling relaxed and calm."

In naming Molinari as one of his favoured Open candidates, Olazabal as gone for a form horse. In the final round of the French Open the Italian shot a 64 to tie for second place, and in three days in Scotland he has scored 62, 70 and 67 to move to 17 under par and a one-shot lead over the Dane Anders Hansen to take into today's last round.

Already the winner of the Spanish Open, if Molinari adds another title today he will emulate his brother, Edoardo, who won the Scottish Open last year. They would be the second brothers in European Tour history to win the same event.

But for Olazabal's faith in Molinari to shine through in Lytham, the Italian will have to be overcome tiredness after contending for tournaments over two weekends. And the worry has not escaped him.

Molinari said last night: "Padraig Harrington said he didn't not want to win here in Scotland because winning takes so much out of you. But I just want to win this week and next week – there's plenty of time to worry about that."

Clearly in the mood to play well at Lytham, he added: "I am playing well, putting well and everything in my game is pretty much where I want it to be."

Warren makes late charge

Scotland's Marc Warren has had an up and down career, from partnering Colin Montgomerie to win the World Cup in 2007 to failing, in 2010, to make enough money to keep his European Tour playing card.

Today, however, at Castle Stuart, the 31-year-old from Rutherglen will be hunting one of the best consolation prizes. Warren will have to close a two-shot gap between himself and the leader, Francesco Molinari, in the final round of the Scottish Open. But after an eight under par 64 yesterday he is in the frame to clinch an 11th-hour place to play his first Open Championship.

That ticket to play at Royal Lytham will go to the highest non-Open-exempt player in the top five. From the pack at the start of the third round, Warren climbed into a share of second with his partner, the Dane Soren Kjeldsen, who also shot a 64. Their better-ball score for 18 third-round holes was a massive 15 under par. Kjeldsen is also chasing the Open spot.

Graham Otway

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Jamie and Emily Pharro discovering their friend's prank
video
News
i100
News
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014
peopleTim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
News
people
Life and Style
techApp to start sending headlines, TV clips and ads to your phone
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift crawls through the legs of twerking dancers in her 'Shake It Off' music video
musicEarl Sweatshirt thinks so
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan in What If
filmReview: Actor swaps Harry Potter for Cary Grant in What If
News
Our resilience to stress is to a large extent determined by our genes
science
Travel
travel
Sport
sportBesiktas 0 Arsenal 0: Champions League qualifying first-leg match ends in stalemate in Istanbul
News
Pornography is more accessible - and harder to avoid - than ever
news... but they still admit watching it
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

Beyond a joke

Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

A wild night out

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

Besiktas vs Arsenal

Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment