Irish trio remain in contention

 

Damien McGrane, Gareth Maybin and Peter Lawrie will go into tomorrow’s final round of the Johnnie Walker Classic within striking distance of a first win of the season. The three Irish players left in the field are four strokes behind joint leaders John Bickerton and Ross McGowan.

McGrane, who held a share of the overnight lead, could only manage a level par round of 72 to remain on 10-under while Lawrie’s 69 moved him up the leaderboard. Lawrie had held a share of the lead midway through the round but a double bogey on the 16th dropped him into the chasing pack.

Maybin made the biggest move of the Irish, a 68 fostering genuine hopes of a first European Tour win for the 28-year-old from Co Down.

Bickerton and McGowan head the standings on 14-under with McGowan matching the day’s best round with a seven-under 65 as he and Bickerton opened up a two-stroke gap on the rest of the field.

Sharing third spot on 12-under is a group of four players that includes Raphael Jacquelin of France (66), Chile’s Felipe Aguilar (68), Australian Terry Pilkadaris (68) and New Zealand amateur Danny Lee (69).

Spain’s Ignacio Garrido bogeyed his final hole to card a 70, which dropped him into a tie for seventh on 11-under with Korea’s Bae Sang-Moon (65), Australian Michael Sim (67), Dutchman Robert-Jan Derksen (69) and Hiroyuki Fujita of Japan (70).

Lee Westwood is in contention on nine under after carding a 68 that included an eagle, five birdies and a double bogey while Colin Montgomerie is seven under after a level-par 72.

Anthony Kim’s hopes of mounting a challenge suffered a severe setback when the world number 11 became the second player in two days after Westwood to play a quadruple-bogey nine on the par-five third during his round of 75 that put him on five under.

Bickerton was eight under after two rounds and parred his first six holes today before rolling in a 12-foot putt for his first birdie of the day on the seventh.

It helped to ignite the 39-year-old who birdied six of the last 12 holes for a six-under 66 that put him back into contention after a poor run that has him miss the cut in his last four tournaments.

“So far, so good. Obviously the last few weeks have been a bit of a struggle after taking time off in the winter and then to come back last week was the first sign of actually playing decent,” said the European Tour veteran.

“The difference this week is that the putts are going in and sometimes that’s what makes the difference.”

With 30 players within six strokes of the lead, Bickerton knows there is still much to play for in the final round.

“The Tour is so strong these days that anybody is capable of winning. These guys wouldn’t be here unless they were capable of winning. It’s a strong, strong Tour nowadays — it’s not like it used to be.

“And they are all young as well, which really peeves me off,” he added, laughing.

Collated scores
(Gbr & Irl unless stated, par 72):

202John Bickerton 66 70 66, Ross McGowan 70 67 65

204Danny Lee (Nzl) 67 68 69, Felipe Aguilar (Chi) 68 68 68, Terry Pilkadaris (Aus) 70 66 68, Raphael Jacquelin (Fra) 70 68 66

205Robert Jan Derksen (Ned) 64 72 69, Michael Sim (Aus) 69 69 67, Sang-moon Bae (Kor) 70 70 65, Ignacio Garrido (Spa) 67 68 70, Hiroyuki Fujita (Jpn) 67 68 70

206 Damien McGrane66 68 72, Niclas Fasth (Swe) 70 69 67, Gareth Maybin68 70 68, Andrew Dodt (Aus) 70 66 70, Peter Senior (Aus) 70 67 69, Peter Lawrie67 70 69

207Won Joon Lee (Aus) 71 70 66, Taichiro Kiyota (Jpn) 68 70 69, David Frost (Rsa) 73 64 70, Lee Westwood 66 73 68, Adam Blyth (Aus) 68 68 71

208Chris Gaunt (Aus) 68 69 71, Mardan Mamat (Sin) 65 71 72, Seve Benson 70 67 71, Tony Carolan (Aus) 65 72 71, Ian Poulter 68 69 71, Andre Stolz (Aus) 69 67 72, Markus Brier (Aut) 70 68 70, Michael Jonzon (Swe) 71 68 69

209Scott Laycock (Aus) 68 71 70, Colin Montgomerie 67 70 72, Nick Dougherty 73 66 70, Tim Wood (Aus) 69 72 68, Peter Hedblom (Swe) 73 66 70, Paul Casey 71 68 70, Anthony Wall 70 70 69, Craig Parry (Aus) 71 69 69, Brad Kennedy (Aus) 71 68 70

210Gary Lockerbie 69 69 72, David McKenzie (Aus) 68 73 69, David Smail (Nzl) 70 71 69, Alexander Noren (Swe) 68 69 73, Richard Finch 69 70 71, Graeme Storm 73 64 73

211Francesco Molinari (Ita) 68 71 72, Robert Dinwiddie 71 70 70, Phillip Price 68 70 73, Pelle Edberg (Swe) 70 67 74, Anthony Kang (USA) 67 67 77, Brett Rumford (Aus) 71 70 70, Anthony Kim (USA) 68 68 75, Scott Hend (Aus) 68 72 71, Clint Rice (Aus) 67 71 73, Peter O’Malley (Aus) 73 68 70, Marcus Fraser (Aus) 70 71 70

212Magnus A Carlsson (Swe) 71 67 74, Mikko Ilonen (Fin) 72 65 75, David Howell 70 68 74

213Alistair Presnell (Aus) 72 68 73, Andrew Coltart 72 69 72, Simon Khan 68 73 72

214Marcel Siem (Ger) 72 69 73, James Kamte (Rsa) 73 67 74

215Jose Manuel Lara (Spa) 71 70 74

216Hyung-sung Kim (Kor) 68 71 77

217Richie Ramsay 68 73 76

218Darren Beck (Aus) 70 70 78, Michael Long (Nzl) 74 67 77

220Anton Haig (Rsa) 69 72 79

222Benn Barham 68 72 82