Nick Dougherty's challenge for the SAS Master's title took a hit today as a par round of 70 has seen him drop back to two shots off the lead. This has been his first decent opportunity for some time now, having been outside the top 50 in his last seven tournaments and he is not losing heart just yet. Two birdies balanced out the two bogeys on his card, and he is still well placed for tomorrow.
"Both my wins have come from the front, but I will take where I am right now. It's just lovely to be in contention going into the final round."
He has company in second place with Denmark's Soren Kjeldsen , Swedes Daniel Chopra and Pelle Edberg and Scot Gary Orr, eight under proving a popular place to be. The lead is held by Swede Peter Hanson who is reawakening his hopes of a Ryder Cup place this week and is now contemplating a change in his schedule to have a go at making it.
Currently Hanson is in 24th place in the European rankings but a win here would give him a platform to challenge from in the last two tournaments. His 68 today puts him in prime position to do just that, and Nick Dougherty will be seeing if he can successfully hunt him down for a first win from behind. It could be a case of who wants to see the Ryder Cup from the tee rather from a sofa.
Chris Wood, playing his first tournament since turning professional, kept his act together despite not being in tip top condition today.
"I can't be disappointed, given how I felt, I had some food poisoning yesterday, was sick in the night and didn't sleep much. I feel all right now, but I've not eaten anything and didn't feel comfortable with my swing."
The lanky Wood can be happy thought to see himself move into a share of ninth going into the last day, lying five off the lead. A fine days work with a dicky tummy could have been so much better as he played the front nine 5 shots under par, including an eagle on the 1st as he holed his pitch. But his illness caught up with him on twelve, taking double bogey and one more on 18 gave him a total of 68, a great performance in his situation. A good finish tomorrow would go a long way to seeing him securing his place on the tour in quick fashion.
Another Englishman doing well this week is Sam Walker who has had rounds of 72, 68 and a 64 today. Using my amazing maths skills, if he continues that little pattern he's on for a 60 tomorrow to equal the European Tour record. Wouldn't put the mortgage on it though...