Slattery widens the gap

European Tour

Lee Slattery has doubled his overnight lead and will head into Sunday’s final round of the Madrid Open two shots clear.

England’s Lee Slattery doubled his overnight lead on Saturday and will head into Sunday’s final round of the Bankia Madrid Open two shots clear of Australian Brett Rumford and Argentine Lorenzo Gagli.

This after he shot a bogey-free 69 in Saturday’s second round at the El Encin Golf Hotel to take his 54-hole total to a 14-under 202.

Rumford posted a 68 and Gagli a 69 to be two shots off the pace at 12-under with Italy’s Francesco Molinari, Sweden’s Oscar Floren and a second Argentine, Cesar Monasterio, in a three way tie at 11-under.

Slattery led by one overnight but quickly saw that disappear when little known Spaniard Eduardo De La Riva birdied the first two holes to go to 12 under par.

He gave one back at the fifth but he holed his approach to the par-four ninth to take back the lead once more as Slattery quietly went about his business with no flap and no fuss, despite only managing a solitary birdie on the front nine.

Windy conditions made low scoring more difficult than on the first two days, but defending champion Luke Donald moved into contention at 10-under and looked as if he might go all the way to the top when he picked up four birdies in the first 11 holes.

But Slattery remained focused and birdies at the 13th and 15th saw him regain his place at the top of the leaderboard as De La Rosa’s charge was brought to a screeching halt with a bogey at 14 and a double at 17. He eventually finished in sole possession of 5th place at 9-under.

Donald’s challenge also fell away, three bogeys on the last five holes, leaving him six shots behind fellow countryman Slattery

Rumford, meanwhile had sparked his round with four birdies in six holes from the fifth, while Gagli showed great tenacity during a roller coaster ride that saw him card an eagle, five birdies and four bogeys.

But there was disappointment for first round leader Ross McGowan, who came home in 41 – including a triple-bogey seven at the 17th – to slide out of contention.

Slattery said his round had been solid rather than spectacular, but he was happy with where it had taken him.

“I just played really steady,” he said. “I didn’t make too many mistakes. I probably could have holed a few more putts, I left a few out there. At the turn I just felt a little bit more relaxed and played really nicely coming in.”

Rumford, on the other hand said, “It was a good day – from tee to green.”

“On the greens, however, I just wasn’t quite reading the lines properly and my pace was a little bit out, but It’s nice to be able to get back to doing what I need to do to play well.”

At 136th in The Race to Dubai standings, Slattery has the opportunity to end any concerns about his European Tour future, but he is determined to put that to the back of his mind for the time being.

“It’s all about not thinking about the big picture,” he added. “It’s very hard to do – if you say don’t think about a pink elephant you automatically think of it, but there are techniques you can use to switch off.

“This is why we play the game. It doesn’t get much better than this where you can play in front of fans in great weather on great courses.”

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