Warren holds two-shot lead in Spain
Irish challenge wilts as Lowry undoes second round 66 with disappointing 74
Marc Warren of Scotland plays from a greenside bunker on the first hole during the third round of the Open de Espana at Parador de El Saler. Photograph: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
Scotland’s Marc Warren will take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Spanish Open after a superb 68 in tough, windy conditions at El Saler.
Warren carded six birdies and two bogeys to finish eight under par, with compatriot Craig Lee his nearest challenger after a 70 and English pair David Horsey (66) and Paul Waring (69) a shot further back.
“I think that’s the best I’ve played in a long time on a course as tough as this and in conditions as tough as this,” the 32-year-old from Glasgow said. “The wind changed a little bit today as well and made the course even tougher than the first two days. We saw the scoring wasn’t great the first two days and it’s a testament to the course set-up and how good a golf course this actually is.
“I much prefer this type of golf to some more modern courses where it’s just a bombers’ paradise where you just stand up and hit driver as hard as you want.
“A hole like 16 here is a really long par four but I am still hitting two iron off that tee and going in with a four iron and just having to invent shots and use your imagination a little bit.”
Warren has won twice on the European Tour after a successful amateur career which culminated in playing on the winning Walker Cup team in 2001 with the likes of Luke Donald and Graeme McDowell. But his last victory came back in 2007, the same year he partnered Colin Montgomerie to Scotland’s first World Cup victory in a play-off with the United States in China.
“I’m very excited (about winning) but I’m going to have to play as well as I did today to try and win this thing tomorrow,” Warren added. “Being very patient will be the key to tomorrow. “Two shots isn’t a lot round this golf course, there is a long way to go and there is a tough finish so concentration will be needed to the very end.”
At least Warren should be well rested after enjoying some much-needed sleep this week following the birth of his son Archie last month.
“It’s been life-changing for Laura (his wife) and myself,” he added. “I fortunately had a month off and managed to spend three weeks with him which was great, but it’s nice having some sleep as well this week!”
Horsey began the day in a share of 43rd place after making the cut with one shot to spare and was two over for the tournament after five holes, but then birdied seven of the next 11 to card a superb 66.
“I’m very pleased, it was a very tidy score,” Horsey said. “Today I hit more fairways and left it a little bit closer. I gave myself a lot of chances inside 15 feet and took a lot of them. We had no wind for the first 14 holes and the greens were good early. If you give yourself chances you can hole a lot of putts, and I managed to do that. I didn’t hole anything the first two days, so it’s nice to have 24 putts today.
“Playing early this morning obviously helped. If this wind picks up now it makes it very difficult playing out there, so it’s good to put a good score early on the board and give myself a chance.”
Playing partner Sergio Garcia’s round of 70 was his best score of the week, but the world number 13 is seven off the lead on one under.
The Irish challenge faded wtih Shane Lowry's 74 that moved him back to two over after a 66 yesterday. Peter Lawrie is one shot better off after a 72, while the same score saw David Higgins remain on level par.
A 75 saw Gareth Maybin drop back to four over.