Strange finds race for first tour win puts head in a spin

Australian leader has dizzy spell as Dougherty advances in Wales Open

Scott Strange was relieved not to collapse and be sick as he retained the lead in the Wales Open throughout the third round at Celtic Manor yesterday. The 31-year-old Australian managed a two-under-par 69 and saw his advantage cut from four to three, but it was a dizzy spell that was foremost in his mind after he finished.

"Maybe I just need to lie down," Strange said. "For some reason I felt funny down the 14th and when I got on the 15th tee. I felt I was going to fall over and throw up. I had a banana and a chocolate bar, but I had plenty of food and drink before that and can't explain it. I'll have a chat with the physios and then just wait and see."

Strange, whose best Tour finish on European soil before this week was 10th, has led since an opening 63 and sits on 15 under.

Rookie Spaniard Alvaro Velasco, no household name himself at world No 305, lies second on 12 under following a 68, while a stroke further back are Indian Jeev Milkha Singh, Frenchman Raphaël Jacquelin and in-form Swede Robert Karlsson.

Lying in wait on 10 under is England's Nick Dougherty who believes he is back on course to earn a Ryder Cup debut in September after he returned a 67 to move up into joint sixth place. While a third Tour victory is still a tall order he is delighted with how he is playing just a month after the death of his mother. "I feel a lot better after these three days," he said. "Things have been going on off the course with the loss in our family, but I'm optimistic again.

"I was starting to get worried about the state of my game, but I played awesome today and it's so long since I played that freely."

Part of the possible reason for that, the 26-year-old believes, was a decision not to look at leaderboards, but he hopes there will be a stage late on in the final round when there is a need to know. Dougherty will be at the US Open the week after next looking for at least a repeat of last year when he led after the opening day, managed to cope well when paired with Tiger Woods in the third round and finished in seventh.

Darren Clarke is among those who has decided not to try to qualify for the upcoming major, preferring to stay in Europe as he too bids for a Ryder Cup spot.

The Ulsterman also shot 67 to be on eight under, but Colin Montgomerie is still struggling to find his best form and a 73 dropped him from 18th to 46th and out of it at three under.

Elsewhere, Kenny Perry recovered from a nightmare start of three bogeys in his first five holes on Friday to share the halfway lead at the Mem-orial tournament in Dublin, Ohio alongside first-round leader Mathew Goggin of Australia on seven under par. Of the English contenders, Luke Donald (below) is two shots back and two ahead of Justin Rose, while Brian Davis (81) missed the cut.

After that horrific start, Perry, a two-time Memorial champion, bounced back with an eagle from 35 yards at his sixth hole, the par-five 15th. "I hit the shot of my life to keep the ship from sinking," Perry said.

Rose had a chequered day as he fired four birdies but had five bogeys in his 73. Back in the field, English duo Ian Poulter and Paul Casey were among the few players to improve on their first round as scores of 72 and 71 respectively left them both three over par, 10 shots behind the joint leaders.

At St Andrews the United States lead by three points going into today's singles finale to the 35th Curtis Cup match over the Old Course. Mary McKenna's Great Britain & Ireland squad shared yesterday morning's foursomes 11/2– 11/2 but lost the afternoon fourballs 2-1 to leave the US leading 71/2–41/2.

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