Casey takes Route 66 to top
Paul Casey carded a six-under-par 66 to claim a share of the lead at the Commercialbank Qatar Masters.
Paul Casey underlined his return to form following last year’s rib injury as the Ryder Cup ace carded a six-under-par 66 to claim a share of the lead at the Commercialbank Qatar Masters.
He and Bradley Dredge lead the field by one shot heading into the final round.
Casey dropped just one shot in ideal scoring conditions in Doha to join Celtic Manor hopeful Dredge at 10 under par after the Welshman remained in the hunt with a hard-fought 70.
An eventful two-under second round from Lee Westwood left the European number one heading the chasing pack, with Robert Karlsson and overnight leader Brett Rumford two shots adrift and Oliver Wilson and defending champion Alvaro Quiros at seven under.
“I think it’s the best round around this course in four years so I can’t say anything bad,” said Casey, who previously missed three consecutive cuts in Doha.
“I’m not putting any pressure on myself tomorrow; it is just the case of going out and giving myself as many opportunities as possible.”
Casey only rates himself as 95% fit following last year’s problems which curtailed a potentially lucrative season, but the 32-year-old charged through the field at Doha Golf Club with his nearest competitors unable to respond.
He breezed effortlessly through his opening 14 holes in five under par before a poor tee shot resulted in his only blemish of the day at the 15th.
Casey wasted birdie chances at 16 and 18 which could have seen him claim the lead outright, with his final birdie of the day at 17 regarded by him as a bonus.
“I don’t have complete range of motion, but I haven’t held back on any shot,” Casey added. “And every day it’s getting better which is exciting.”
Dredge heads into the final round at the top of the leaderboard for the first time since the 2008 Irish Open, although on that occasion he failed to fire in the final round and finished eighth.
“I’ve been on tour a few years now and I understand to win tournaments you have to be aggressive and you have to shoot for the flags, you have to make birdies,” said the 36-year-old, who won the last of his two titles at the 2006 European Masters.
“I haven’t been in this situation for a while. I’ve been trying to get myself in contention so it’s nice to be playing well in my second tournament of the year.”
Westwood cracked the face of his driver during today’s round and after the initial replacement was not up to scratch, the world number four will head into the unknown tomorrow.
“I’m obviously only one behind so it’s a good position to be in and I’ll try to come out and have a fresh start and get on a roll,” Westwood said. “But it’s unfortunate because I really liked that driver.”
Karlsson carded a second consecutive 70 to stay in touch, while Rumford struggled to live up to his second-round 66, with a 73 dropping the Australian back alongside the former European number one.
Quiros boosted his chances of a title defence after dropping only one shot in a four-under 68, with Wilson certainly not out of contention despite a level-par third round.
Former champion Retief Goosen matched Casey’s 66 to kickstart his challenge, with the 2007 winner four adrift alongside Richard Bland (67) and Marc Warren (68).
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