Romain Wattel takes three-shot lead at KLM Open on day of low scores
England’s Paul Casey flirts with 59 on way to equalling course record of 62
England’s Paul Casey putts on the eighth green on the way to equalling the course record of 62 during the third round of the KLM Open at De Kennemer Golf and Country Club in Zandvoort, Netherlands. Photograph: Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images
France’s Romain Wattel will take a three-shot lead into the final round of the KLM Open on Sunday as he seeks his first European Tour title.
Wattel, mentioned as a potential future Ryder Cup player by European captain Paul McGinley last week, carded seven birdies and one bogey in a third round of 64 to finish 14 under par at Kennemer Golf Club.
Scotland’s Richie Ramsay, who won a year’s supply of beer for a hole-in-one on Friday, is his nearest challenger on 11 under after a 65, with England’s Paul Casey another shot back after equalling the day-old course record with a 62.
Wattel has been earmarked as a potential star since winning on the Challenge Tour as a 19-year-old amateur in 2010, but told European Tour Radio: “I’m not really affected to be honest. I know if I play good enough I am going to win one day; maybe it’s going to be tomorrow, maybe it’s going to be in two years, I don’t really know.
“The most important thing for me is to play some good golf. I am not in the top 100 in the world (he is currently 125th) so I can’t play the best tournaments like the Majors and WGC events, so I am just trying to improve my game week after week.
“I am confident and even if I don’t win tomorrow it’s not a big deal, it will have been a good week for me and I am going to try to keep doing exactly the same.”
Ramsay, who held the halfway lead in the Omega European Masters last week before fading to eighth place, said: “My attitude pleased me today. I nearly got a hole-in-one on 11 again. It was playing tough, a front pin and it was a seven iron to four feet, so three shots in two days on the hole is a good effort.
“I’ve been working on the mental side and being a bit more patient, and I’ve worked on the short irons. I was making too many mistakes. I’ve started making birdies now. It was a small change but it has worked.
“I’m in a lovely position. The golf course played great again. It’s getting bouncy and favours shotmakers. I need the same attitude tomorrow, so I’m hoping to go out and enjoy it as you don’t get this sort of opportunity all the time.”
Casey had the chance to celebrate the recent birth of his first child by carding the first ever 59 on the European Tour, the former world number three carding nine birdies in his first 16 holes after starting from the 10th.
A par on the eighth left Casey needing to eagle the ninth to create history and he was only a fraction away as his ball pitched close to the pin and span back to miss the hole by a few inches.
Unfortunately the spin then carried the ball off the green and led to a first bogey of the day, but Casey had no complaints after matching Pablo Larrazabal’s course record from Friday and moving into contention for a first win of the season.
“I actually wasn’t thinking about what I was shooting, but apparently came quite close to shooting a 59 on the last,” the 37-year-old said. “The disappointment was making a bogey on the last, not in missing out on a 59. I’m just happy I’m playing some good stuff.
“Becoming a father just a few days ago, I’ll be honest and say this probably isn’t the most important thing right now and isn’t my immediate focus, or all of my focus.
“There have been times the last few days I would rather have been at home, but although I will be committed tomorrow, I will maintain that carefree attitude. Whether I win this golf tournament or not, I’ll get to go home to my new baby.”
Larrazabal started the day two clear of the field and appeared to be making serene progress as he followed six pars with a birdie at the long seventh.
However, an errant tee shot at the short eighth found thick rough and led to a quadruple-bogey seven, the Spaniard eventually signing for a 75 to fall nine shots off the lead.
Shane Lowry leads the Irish contingent after he carded a three-under 67 to move to four under. Pádraig Harrington is two under after a 70, and Darren Clarke is level par after also shooting a level-par third round. Simon Thornton (75) and Damien McGrane (73) are on two over.