Sunday, 12 October 2008

The Aussie blinks in the face of a Latin Onslaught, Plucky Schwartzel still fighting it out...

I was fairly sure yesterday that one of the leading pair at least one would not be able to keep their momentum going throughout the weekend, as they have both failed to do in recent times. Turns out I was right as once more, Marcus Fraser, looking good over the first two days, hit a three over 74 to drop away, eight shots back and now out of contention.Charl Schwartzel, the swashbuckling South African, did rather better, five birdies and an eagle got him a 66. That leaves him leading going into the final round on 14 under.

He can expect to see a challenge however as there were two absolutely huge moves through the field yesterday. The most impressive was arguably from Argentinian Ricardo Gonzalez who had one of the most ridiculous rounds of Golf you could imagine. Coasting serenely with a rack of pars and a single birdie, he was one under for his round stepping onto the tenth tee. Whether he had an energy drink, a mars bar, or perhaps a Popeye style can of spinach, I couldn't tell you: what I can tell you is that he embarked on one of the craziest runs of scoring you'll have seen outside of Tiger Woods on the Xbox. Six birdies and an eagle on the par five 14th, the second half of his card ablaze with red figures and all of a sudden Gonzalez was just one off the lead.

"I was one under after nine and thought to myself 'I need a few more birdies' - but to shoot nine under is unbelievable.The key, I think, was my drive on 10. From there, I felt more confident. My putting was also very good on the last seven or eight holes.Spain is like a second home, and I feel very good here. I'll feel a little bit of pressure in the last round but I'll try to make a good score again and play well.I will just play golf and enjoy it - that's the only thing I can do."

Gonzalez was not the only guy going very low yesterday, Spaniard Pablo Larrazabal also bagged a 62 by way of an eagle on the fourth, bogey on the fifth and then eight birdies in his last twelve holea. Larrazabal has emerged as a real character on the European Tour this year, I don't know if I've seen a golfer who more clearly leaves his heart on his sleeve than wee Pablo, shouting and cursing at himself on bad shots, skipping like a schoolchild after the good.

Two more Spaniards Alvaro Quiros and Carlos Del Moral are hot on the heels of these leaders, and it looks like a question of whether the South African Schwartzel can fend off the marauding pack which has a decidedly Latin flavour...

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