Donaldson upstages the big guns
Welshman Jamie Donaldson has upstaged Lee Westwood and Rory McIlroy in the third round of the Omega European Masters.
Welshman Jamie Donaldson has upstaged Lee Westwood and Rory McIlroy with a stunning finish that will take him into Sunday’s final round of the Omega European Masters in sole possession of the lead
The World numbers one and two looked set for a mouthwatering final-group Sunday showdown at Crans-sur-Sierre in the Swiss Alps until Donaldson upset the apple cart by birdying four of the last six holes to shoot a 65 and move one shot clear of Westwood at 14 under.
McIlroy finished a further shot behind Westwood at 12-under after stumbling with two late bogies and Denmark’s Thomas Bjorn and England’s Gary Boyd shared 4th place at 11-under
The in-form Donaldson, who at 34 is still seeking his first win after 237 starts on the European Tour, recovered from what was just his second bogey of the week at the long ninth hole to pick up three straight birdies from the 13th before another at the 17th swept him into the outright lead.
“It will be awesome going up against two of the best players in the world at the moment,” said a delighted Donaldson after his round.
He turned professional after partnering Luke Donald and Paul Casey to second place in the 2000 World Amateur Team Championship.
But while they became instant hits in the paid ranks he suffered a serious back injury and and after a long break, had to go back to the Qualifying School five years ago to get back into professional golf.
Last season, though, he had no fewer than nine top-ten finishes and is poised now to break back into the top 100 on the Official World Golf Ranking list.
Westwood had earlier made an impressive charge, capping a front-nine 31 with four birdies in a row before collecting two more at 14 and 15.
The world No 2 parred his way home from there to finish with a flawless 64, the best round of the day. while McIlroy, who was also bogey-free after 15 holes, spoiled his card with dropped shots at 16 and 17.
The US Open champion had earlier rolled in a 30-foot eagle putt at the driveable par-four seventh, and he matched Westwood’s birdies at 14 and 15 before his late slip cost him the lead.
“It was not the greatest way to finish,” said McIlroy, who three-putted the 16th and airmailed the green from a fairway bunker at the next.
“But I’m still in there with a chance and I’ll be looking for a fast start and putting a bit of pressure on the boys. I feel the way my game is there for a 61 or 62.”
Westwood said: “I played only six holes the last two weeks, but at some point you have to take a break and recharge your batteries.
“It was nice not to have any fives on the card and no bogeys, especially on this course because it can trip you up.”
THE TOP 10 LEADERBOARD
(Gbr and Ire unless stated, par 71):
199 Jamie Donaldson 68 66 65
200 Lee Westwood 67 69 64
201 Rory McIlroy 65 69 67
202 Gary Boyd 65 69 68, Thomas Bjorn (Den) 68 68 66
203 Stephen Gallacher 70 66 67, Soren Hansen (Den) 71 66 66, Keith Horne (Rsa) 71 67 65, Danny Willett 71 64 68, Martin Kaymer (Ger) 65 70 68, Damian Ulrich (Swi) 69 67 67
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