Scotland’s Lee flirts with sub-60 round on way to taking lead

Third round of 61 leaves 36-year-old on course for first European Tour title

 Craig Lee of Scotland tees off at the 16th during the third round of the Omega European Masters at the Crans-sur-Sierre Golf Club  in Crans, Switzerland. Photograph: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Craig Lee of Scotland tees off at the 16th during the third round of the Omega European Masters at the Crans-sur-Sierre Golf Club in Crans, Switzerland. Photograph: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Sat, Sep 7, 2013, 17:27

Craig Lee just failed to record the European Tour’s first sub-60 round but a stunning 61 saw the Scot surge to the top of the leaderboard at the Omega European Masters in Switzerland.

A birdie on the 14th had set Lee up to make history but pars over the final four holes meant he narrowly missed out and he will take a two-shot lead over Thomas Bjorn, Victor Dubuisson and Alejandro Canizares going into the final round on 16 under.

Eleven birdies in total ensures Lee is on course to claim his first European Tour title at Crans Montana.

“(It was) comfortably my best round ever. Even as an amateur or in a bounce game, I’ve never managed to get to double figures.

“So this is my best round by far. You just try to focus on each shot you play though. When you hit it and it is executed properly and you see it flying down the pin, it is pretty special.

“For the first 12 or 13 holes that was what was happening. It was pretty surreal to see all these good golf shots coming out in the same day. I’ve been playing quite nicely for a while so it has all come together.

“I would like to have had a heart rate monitor on. From the first I don’t think my heart got under 100bpm.

“There were certain crucial putts that got the heart going and I don’t think it ever slowed down. I’m still not really ready to relax.”

While Lee’s efforts ensured he was in the spotlight, England’s Richard Finch produced a hole in one at the 195-yard par three 13th, his six iron earning him an Omega watch worth €13,000.

The 36-year-old Lee started his third round with six successive birdies, and after a par on the seventh, picked up three more birdies.

Although a par and bogey halted his progress, the Stirling golfer picked up further birdies on the 13th and 14th and history beckoned, ultimately to no avail.

Denmark’s Bjorn, who shared the overnight lead with Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher, picked up three birdies on the front nine before a further two sandwiched a bogey as he finished with 67.

He was joined by Frenchman Dubuisson who produced a mixed round which comprised three birdies, two eagles and two bogeys including one at the final hole.

Canizares hit an eagle and three birdies on the back nine for a 65 and he said: “I made birdie on the 10th and from there on, everything just happened the right way.

“I’m very happy to finish the way I finished although there were a couple of tough putts in the end but I still managed to save the round.”

Miguel Angel Jimenez and Tommy Fleetwood both hit rounds of 69 to tie for fifth but they go into the final day three shots behind the trio tied for second.

Ross Fisher had an impressive day, starting with an eagle and going on to hit six birdies for an eight-under 63 but Gallacher was undone by five bogeys for a 72.

Pádraig Harrington’s challenge never materialised and a double bogey on the short 16th followed by a bogey at 17 saw the Dubliner card a one-over 71 to finish on six under.

Gareth Maybin is two shots further back after a 70, while Michael Hoey’s 75 left him on two over.