Suneson's winds of change

Spaniard overcomes health scares and gusty conditions to draw level with Bjorn

Carl Suneson turned his back on several years of ill health to produce an exhilarating finish as the Spaniard shared the lead with Den- mark's Thomas Bjorn at the windswept BMW International Open in Munich yesterday. The pair ended the third round on 201, 15 under par, Suneson birdieing three of the last four holes for a five-under 67.

Carl Suneson turned his back on several years of ill health to produce an exhilarating finish as the Spaniard shared the lead with Den- mark's Thomas Bjorn at the windswept BMW International Open in Munich yesterday. The pair ended the third round on 201, 15 under par, Suneson birdieing three of the last four holes for a five-under 67.

Bjorn, who was three ahead at one stage, putted well on the closing stretch for a 69. He will take over Europe's number-four spot from Colin Montgomerie with a top-two finish after the Scot missed the cut. England's Daren Lee was a stroke behind the leaders and Germany's Bernhard Langer was left three shots off the pace, both with scores of 66.

Suneson had gone ahead at the 18th hole, gaining an easy birdie after a 32-foot eagle attempt just slid past the hole. Bjorn, playing just behind him, sank his own matching birdie on the same hole.

Suneson topped the Challenge Tour rankings last year to regain his European Tour card after six years of uneven form, mainly caused by thyroid problems and then diabetes.

He is 114th on the money list. The secondary tour helped him to recover fitness and rediscover his swing, and now he plans to put last year's successes to good advantage. "I haven't been leading going into a last round on the full tour before." said the one-time English amateur international, who has a Swedish father and an English mother. "But I won three times on the Challenge Tour last year and I'm going to draw on my experience and hope that's good enough to win tomorrow."

Suneson, who was born in the Canary Islands and became a naturalised Spaniard four years ago, said he coped with the high winds by drawing on his work with a sports psychologist to help him reduce stress when gripping the club.

Bjorn relied on a more consistent swing, remodelled with his coach over the last two months. The Dane, fifth in Europe's order of merit, runner-up in the British Open and third in the US PGA Championship, also needed to finish well to stay in touch and only dropped one shot, at the 14th.

"The conditions were tough and the swing stood up well but I ran out of steam on the 14th," said Bjorn, who began a stroke ahead of the field and increas-ed his lead to three by the 13th. "I holed three good putts on the last three holes, two to save par and the birdie putt on the last."

Bjorn knows his two chief challengers, who are both trying to retain their cards, only too well. "I had to make it from the Challenge Tour like Carl and I know he's a great player because you don't win the Challenge Tour without playing good golf," he said.

"Daren's a good player who needs to grind it out and keep his card. They know a good result tomorrow can change their lives, and good luck to them. But that won't deflect me from trying to beat them.

None of the leaders is likely to come under pressure from the tournament's two surviving world-ranked players, Ernie Els and Greg Norman. Els, the world number two, is nine shots off the lead and will struggle to capture the second place he needs to go top of Europe's money list. Norman, meanwhile, is 10 shots behind after an error-strewn 74.

Langer, hoping to end a title drought dating back to 1997, said: "Life will go on if I don't win this tournament. But I'm very happy indeed with the way I played in this wind."

Delighting the home fans, he made a roaring start with four birdies in his first five holes as he pulled himself into contention to win the only tournament that has eluded him in his homeland, having notched up 12 titles in Germany.

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