Donald and Davies lead in Madrid
England’s Luke Donald is on course to make history as he and Wales’ Rhys Davies lead the Madrid Masters after the third round.
Luke Donald remains on course to make it an amazing four English golfers in the world’s top 10, nine years after they had only Lee Westwood in the top 100.
But whether Donald can do it in the way he wants, by winning the Madrid Masters, remains to be seen after European Tour rookie Rhys Davies birdied two of the last three holes to join him on 16 under par with a round to go.
Even with a second-place finish at the Real Sociedad course Donald, currently ranked 13th, will join Westwood, Ian Poulter and Paul Casey in the world’s top 10.
But after what happened at Wentworth last Sunday, victory is all that is on his mind.
The 32-year-old, who lost the BMW PGA Championship by one after taking seven at the penultimate hole, fired a bogey-free 68.
However, Welshman Davies, already a winner in Morocco in his first full season on the circuit, holed from eight feet at the long 16th and then from 12 on the 198-yard 17th for a 67.
His round included eight birdies, but also a bogey at the third and double bogey on the short seventh.
Donald, who led by one at halfway, said: “To rebound from the disappointment of last week and be in contention shows a lot about my character.
“I was struggling a bit off the tee on the back side. Not to have a bogey was good, but it would have been nice to make a couple more birdies.”
Davies said: “I made two little errors, very minor, and got severely punished for both.
“It was annoying at the time, but I focused on keeping my head in the right position and took on the shots I felt like I needed to.
“Saturday is a little bit different because there is still a long way to go.”
Donald’s last title was the US Tour’s Honda Classic four years ago and for his last win in Europe you have to go back to the 2004 European Masters in Switzerland.
The world ranking points on offer mean that Donald will go fourth in the Ryder Cup table by ending his barren spell, a move that would knock Padraig Harrington out of an automatic spot.
Italian Francesco Molinari is two strokes back in third place after a 65 highlighted by five birdies in the opening seven holes and then a fairway wood to six feet for eagle at the 562-yard 16th.
Big-hitting Alvaro Quiros moved into fourth place with a course record-equalling 64 that almost came out of nowhere.
He was “only” four under for the day with three to play, but two-putted the 16th, made a 15-footer on the next and then pitched in from 58 yards for a closing eagle two.
It gives the 27-year-old the chance of a second victory on home soil this month. He started May by capturing the Spanish Open in a play-off with England’s James Morrison.
England’s Graeme Storm, the man who set the course record the day before, followed up with a 67 and is fifth.
‘Is this where I am going to die?’ Nicolas Colsaerts on kidney disorder battle
The Belgian is the focus of attention this week as he belatedly defends the Cazoo Open de France title he won three years ago.
On this day in 2008: Ryder Cup misery in Louisville for Nick Faldo’s Europe team
Faldo was heavily criticised for his tactics in the closing singles.
Open champion Cameron Smith wins first LIV trophy in just second start
The world number two is the highest-ranked player to join the rebel series.
Robert MacIntyre beats Matt Fitzpatrick in play-off to win Italian Open
MacIntyre birdied the first extra hole at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club, the venue for next year’s Ryder Cup.
Matt Fitzpatrick holds narrow lead ahead of final round at Italian Open
Rory McIlroy and Aaron Rai are one shot off the pace.
Rory McIlroy picks up the pace to claim lead ahead of Matt Fitzpatrick in Rome
McIlroy’s group looked unlikely to complete their second rounds after taking three hours to play nine holes.
Matt Fitzpatrick leads way at Italian Open despite ‘inconsistent’ display
The US Open champion held a one-shot lead over fellow Englishman Tom Lewis,
Rory McIlroy rues a late night until eagle gets him flying in Italian Open
The four-time major winner was only a shot behind leader Matt Fitzpatrick after the first round of the Rome event.
Rory McIlroy begins Italian Open with superb 67 after recovering from slow start
He kick-started his round by holing out from 115 yards for an eagle on the par-four third.
Shane Lowry: Golf risks alienating fans with disgusting amount of money involved
The BMW PGA Championship winner insists he was never tempted to join LIV Golf.