Mouland steals march to the front

PGA CHAMPIONSHIP: Langer stumbles but stays on the pace as Nobilo's confidence evaporates
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GUY HODGSON

reports from Wentworth

It would be safe to say that until recently Mark Mouland was not a model professional. He likes a drink for a start and when he does arrive on leaderboards it is in a puff of smoke; about a packet of cigarettes per round if he cares to count.

The Welshman is a reformed man, however - well he has cut down on the late nights - and yesterday his virtue was rewarded in the shape of a seven-under-par 65 in the third round that puts him in contention for the Volvo PGA Championship here. The Mark of moderation is on 208, sharing the lead with Bernhard Langer going into the final day.

"It's no secret I like a drink," he said. "Nothing excessive but it was 12 midnight, 1am and having a laugh with the boys. Now if I'm later in bed than 10pm I'm having a late night." And his smoking? "Still like a chimney," he replied. "About one a hole. It gives me something to do."

Mouland, whose best position this season was eighth in the Andalucian Open, decided to cut back on the late-night strokes after persistent nagging by friends and family. "I wouldn't listen," he said. "For five years people were saying I should grow up a bit but I'm pretty stubborn. I'm 34 now and I've calmed down. I'm practising more, my confidence is growing day by day and I'm enjoying my golf."

He had every reason to enjoy yesterday despite a swirling wind that made club selection difficult. Starting at one-under and seven shots off the lead, his round was going adequately rather than spectacularly until his eight-iron approach to the eighth curved 167 yards and, with one bounce, went into the hole for an eagle two.

Then Mouland, cigarette smoke spiralling in his wake, splattered his back nine with red figures denoting birdies, five in all. His only blemish was a three-putt on the 15th.

Even so he has put the pounds 150,000 first prize within his grasp which is precisely pounds 50,000 more than he had set his sights on as a reasonable target for the season. "I might shoot 82 or it might be 65," he said. "Who knows?" Such a philospohical attitude comes when you have broken ankles and feet in a car crash as he did in 1986.

"It was a drunk driver on the wrong side of the road," he said. "I've recovered although I still get some pain when it's wet. I still limp a little bit."

Frank Nobilo, the overnight leader, did not shoot an 82 although there were times when he appeared he might. An eye infection is bringing tears to the eyes of the New Zealander which was probably as well because if anything was likely to make a full-grown man break down it was his round here yesterday.

Two lost strokes in the first three holes had slashed so deeply into his confidence that even an eagle three at the fourth could not restore his equilibrium. By the time he got to the 14th he had seven bogeys and a double-bogey. Only a birdie at the 17th gave him a round of 77.

That appeared to be playing into Langer's hands when the German was striding up the final hole with a stroke advantage over the field. However, from Position A in the middle of the fairway he went to Position Z with one shot, when he blocked his three-wood approach and then saw his ball hit a tree and land in the middle of a flowering rhododendron shrub.

The birdie in hand became two out of the bush and rough and he finished with a bogey which pegged him back to Mouland's score, three and two shots respectively ahead of Nick Faldo, who shot a 71 yesterday, and Colin Montgomerie.

The latter shot 69 although that score disguised a round that fluctuated like the wind direction. After bogeying three of the first six holes he got a birdie with a 20-foot putt at the seventh and Montgomerie was flying.

"A putt like that goes in and it's amazing how it plays havoc with your mind," Montgomerie said. "Suddenly you think the hole might not be one inch wide but four-and-a-half inches after all and you get your confidence back."

With the company around him, he will need it.

VOLVO PGA CHAMPIONSHIP (Wentworth) Third-round scores (GB or Irl unless stated): 208 M Mouland 72 71 65; B Langer (Ger) 67 73 68. 209 P-U Johansson (Swe) 71 69 69; A Sherborne 68 69 72. 210 J M Canizares (Sp) 69 70 71; N Faldo 67 72 71. 211 C Montgomerie 70 72 69; J Parnevik (Swe) 68 73 70; T Levet (Fr) 72 68 71. 212 M James 73 72 67; S Grappasonni (It) 72 69 71; M Besanceney (Fr) 70 71 71; P Senior (Aus) 66 73 73; S Struver (Ger) 69 69 74; P Walton 70 68 74; G Orr 70 67 75. 213 R Boxall 72 71 70; M McLean 70; M A Jimenez (Sp) 73 69 71; M Campbell (NZ) 69 73 71; G Brand Jnr 73 69 71; J M Olazabal (Sp) 69 72 72; R Goosen (SA) 72 67 74; F Nobilo (NZ) 68 68 77. 214 S Ballesteros (Sp) 72 73 69; R Karlsson (Swe) 72 72 70; R Davis (Aus) 70 73 71; P Eales 73 68 73; L Westwood 73 68 73; W Riley (Aus) 69 72 73. 215 M Lanner (Swe) 73 72 70; S Luna (Sp) 72 73 70; P O'Malley (Aus) 74 71 70; S Watson 75 69 71; E Darcy 71 72 72; S Ames (Trin) 74 69 72; J Van de Velde (Fr) 70 72 73; V Singh (Fiji) 72 70 73; P Mitchell 69 73 73; J Rivero (Sp) 74 66 75. 216 K Stables 74 71 71; S Lyle 74 71 71; P Price 72 73 71; V Fernandez (Arg) 72 72 72; P McGinley 76 68 72; A Oldcorn 70 73 73; M Clayton (Aus) 74 69 73; J Townsend (US) 72 71 73; J Lomas 74 68 74; I Garrido (Sp) 72 70 74; M Roe 71 71 74; P Baker 70 72 74. 217 J Haeggman (Swe) 73 72 72; B Lane 74 70 73; P Curry 70 72 75. 219 M Davis 70 75 74; G Turner (NZ) 74 70 75; D Cooper 72 72 75; M Gates 73 70 76; C Rocca (It) 72 70 77. 220 W Westner (SA) 73 72 75; M Harwood (Aus) 75 70 75; Zhang Lian-wei (Ch) 70 72 78. 221 R Claydon 74 71 76; A Cejka (Ger) 72 72 77. 222 P Fowler (Aus) 73 72 77. 223 D Clarke 71 70 82.

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