Cabrera-Bello and Webster share lead in Qatar

Event is still wide open ahead of final round on Saturday but Irish eight adrift

France’s  Adrien Saddier shot a 64 to move into a tie for third spot at the Qatar Masters in  Doha. Photograph: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

France’s Adrien Saddier shot a 64 to move into a tie for third spot at the Qatar Masters in Doha. Photograph: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

Fri, Jan 24, 2014, 14:27

Rafael Cabrera-Bello and Steve Webster share the lead heading into the final round of the Qatar Masters after contrasting performances on Friday.

Cabrera-Bello started the day with a two-shot lead and extended his advantage thanks to a birdie on the second, but dropped two shots in the last six holes to card a disappointing 73.

In contrast, Webster started poorly and was two over par after five holes before playing the remaining 13 in four under to return a 70 and join Cabrera-Bello on 12 under par.

“That wasn’t pretty,” admitted Webster, who started the tournament with an albatross on his very first hole on Wednesday.

“I don’t know what happened the first six or seven holes. I hit it really well on the range and I think I got a bit cocky on the course and hit so many bad shots the first six or seven holes; it was like I had never played golf before.”

Webster was six shots off the pace after his poor start but picked up shots on the seventh, 11th, 14th and 15th to boost his chances of a third European Tour title.

“On the back nine I gave myself a few chances and I knocked in a really good putt on 11 which made things feel a little better,” the 38-year-old added.

“But the pins were tucked away a bit today and that’s why the scores have pretty much stayed the way they were.”

Cabrera-Bello, who was fourth behind fellow Spaniard Pablo Larrazabal in Abu Dhabi last week, said: “It was a tougher day today, things did not go as great as they have been so far.

“I still feel as though I played okay, I just did not manage to score as well. It was tough with the wind, I didn’t quite make the putts and struggled here and there with my chipping, but overall I got the not-so-good round out of the way and I am still in a fantastic position going into Saturday.”

The best round of the day by some distance belonged to France’s Adrien Saddier, the world number 720 shooting a flawless 64 in just his fourth European Tour event as a professional.

That was four shots better than anyone else and lifted the 21-year-old qualifying school graduate 42 places up the leaderboard into a share of third on 11 under, alongside Denmark’s Thorbjorn Olesen and South African Thomas Aiken.

Saddier, who was joint sixth in the Nelson Mandela Championship in December, birdied the par-five first before carding seven threes in succession, five of them birdies with two pars. That took him to the turn in 30 and further birdies on the 10th and 12th followed before a run of six pars completed a superb round.

“It was a great round, I played very well,” Saddier said. “I played the first two rounds with Steve Webster (who shot 65 and 69) and in the long game we were pretty similar but he putted better, so I thought if I can make some good putts I can do the same as him.

“Coming from the qualifying school I need some good results so it’s great to shoot 64 today. I finished 2013 very well and I am starting 2014 well too. I only turned professional in July so my only aim this year is to keep my card.”

Seventeen players are within four shots of the lead, including two-time Qatar winner Paul Lawrie on 10 under and his Ryder Cup team-mate Sergio Garcia on nine under.

Lawrie, who won here in 1999 ahead of his Open triumph at Carnoustie and again in 2012, carded a 69 thanks largely to three birdies in four holes around the turn, while the highlight of Garcia’s 69 was an eagle from 40 feet on the 10th.

Michael Hoey and Simon Thornton both carded two-over rounds of 74 to slip back to four under ahead of the final round on Saturday.

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