VIRGINIA WATER, England - Local favourite Ross Fisher, a member at Wentworth since 1994, edged nearer to realising his dream of winning a PGA European Tour event when he birdied the last three holes to grab a share of the lead at the end of the third round of the BMW PGA Championship in England.
"To win on my home course in front of my own fans would just be incredible," Fisher said.
Four shots behind his playing partner, Marcus Fraser of Australia, at the turn, Fisher told his caddie, "We must try harder to give these people something to cheer about." A back nine of 32 certainly did that. This will be the third time in his short career that he has led or shared the lead going into the final round of a tournament. Up until now, however, he's never managed to finish better than tied for fourth.
Birdies on the closing three holes also helped 41-year-old Paul Broadhurst, whose best finish in this championship is 18th, to reclaim a share of the lead. After the opening round Broadhurst shared top spot with compatriot Justin Rose but fell away on day two.
"I've given up trying to get my weight more forward onto my right side, which is what I've been told I should do. It didn't feel right so this week I've gone back to what I know," explained the Englishman who, with two wins out of two at Kiawah Island in 1991, has a spotless Ryder Cup record and was just one spot away from automatic selection last year.
Another Englishman, Justin Rose, had a slightly disappointing round and fell away with a lackluster 73 and finds himself three shots off the pace in fifth.
"I'm still in touch," Rose said. "That was the goal coming down the last few holes. It was a funny day as I felt more comfortable with my game today than I did the first two days. But it's amazing the difference between a hot and cold putter."
Richard Sterne had no problems on the quick greens and recorded the best round of the day. His bogey-free 66, which contained only one five, moved him up from a tie for 16th into a tie for third, just one behind the leaders.
"I don't know why, I just seem to play better when it's cloudy. I feel more rhythmical," said Sterne, 25. One of a number of young South Africans showing immense promise, he said he felt very comfortable all day and only missed a couple of greens. "I've made a subtle change in my posture, which seemed to do the trick. Quite a few tee-shots out there are quite frightening, so it certainly helps if you feel comfortable and confident."
Unusually for someone who rarely stays on after a round to hit balls, he has spent a "fair bit of time on the range this week." With three top five finishes in his last four starts, he is the man in form. However, no South African, not even Ernie Els, has ever won this Championship.
One-time leader, Marcus Fraser, who enjoyed an impressive two under par front nine, let things slip a bit on the back half, but is still handily placed and tees off in the penultimate pairing only one behind the leaders.
After recovering from a nightmare nine on the opening day, Paul Casey failed to build on Friday's impressive 67 and his level par round leaves him in a tie for 10th alongside the man who shared the halfway lead with Justin Rose, Angel Cabrera of Argentina.
With forecasters predicting a wild, wet and windy final day at Wentworth, whoever among the leaders handles the rough weather best will surely pocket the $1 million first prize.
May 26, 2007
Although in his 60s, with a handicap of 15 and lifetime earnings comfortably below $100, Clive Agran nevertheless still believes he can win a major. Arguably England's most gifted golf writer, when not dreaming of glory he's scouring the globe simultaneously searching for lost balls and great golf courses.
With stellar play on the back nine at Royal Birkdale, Padraig Harrington shot a 69 in the final round to earn a four-shot victory and become Europe's first back-to-back British Open champion in more than a century. He earned nearly $1.5 million and climbed to No. 3 in the world rankings. "I'm really thrilled with the way I felt today on the golf course," Harrington said. "I hit the ball as pure as I could and just felt really good."
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