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
News
i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
News
Down-to-earth: Winstone isn't one for considering his 'legacy'
people
News
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower