Practice makes perfect for Coltart in his Great North run

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The Independent Online

Andrew Coltart will take a three-shot lead into the final round of the Great North Open at Slaley Hall as he chases only his second European Tour title. The Scot carded a third-round 69 at Slaley Hall for an 11-under-par total of 205 and admitted he would be disappointed not to claim the £133,330 first prize today.

"There are a lot of guys capable of shooting great scores but I would be disappointed not to win, that's only natural," said Coltart, who leads Wales' Bradley Dredge and England's Jamie Spence by three, with five more players another shot back. "I have a good chance and if I can keep doing the job I'm doing it's going to make it difficult for someone else," he added. Coltart had shared the overnight lead on eight under after consecutive rounds of 68 and was never headed once playing partner Dredge bogeyed the second hole after failing to get up and down from left of the green.

Dredge, seeking his first career victory, did get back on level terms with an eagle on the fourth while Coltart two-putted for birdie, but the Scot then pulled clear with birdies from eight and 20 feet on the fifth and seventh. Another birdie on the 11th stretched Coltart's lead to three and that remained intact despite his only bogey of the day, when he three-putted the 15th.

"I played reasonably well and managed to hole some putts and that's what is going to make the difference," added Coltart, who was one of Mark James' wild cards for the 1999 Ryder Cup and lost to Tiger Woods in the closing-day singles. Coltart's putting has been a major reason he has not fulfilled the potential initially shown with the first of two Australian PGA victories in 1994 and confirmed with his maiden European Tour win in the Qatar Masters in 1998.

Installing a putting green in the back garden of his home in Sunningdale has certainly helped, however. He said: "That has certainly made a difference. The putting is improving and I can see myself holing putts that I couldn't for three-and-a-half years."

Dredge was disappointed with his third- round 72 that contained one eagle but no birdies and two dropped shots. "I didn't putt well, didn't attack the hole," said the 27-year-old from Newport. Spence was more erratic in his 70 with six birdies, two bogeys and a double-bogey six at the ninthbut could still prove the biggest threat to Coltart.

Among those five shots off the lead on seven under are the English trio of Daren Lee, Salisbury's Andrew Beal and Surrey's Paul Casey alongside the Australian pair Scott Gardiner and Lucas Parsons.