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Friday, 19 March 2010
A birdie-three at the final hole enabled Scott Watson to a share of the lead after three rounds of the Beazer Homes Challenge Tour Championship at Bowood Golf and Country Club in Wiltshire. The 33-year-old Englishman finished with 70 and is joint top with Denmark's Thomas Norret, who shot 72, on seven-under-par 209.

They are a stroke ahead of Scotland's Graham Rankin and Federico Bisazza from Italy, and two clear of Gregory Havret of France and Welshman Garry Houston.

Norret, who began the day two ahead of the field, lost his driving on the front nine and was out in a disastrous 39. It cost him the lead, which Bisazza snapped up with an outward 34. But the Dane regrouped and four birdies in five holes from the 11th got him back in front until Watson swooped at the last.

"I lost my driving completely on the front nine and the ball finished either in a bunker or the rough which you can't do around here," he said. "But I hit a few good irons and got my driving back coming home.

"I'm happy I didn't lose my composure along with my driving or it could have been a lot worse."

Watson, who is quitting tournament golf at the end of the season because he can't make a living, is, ironically, playing his best golf for years. But he won't go back on his decision.

"Since I made that decision I have played much better," he said. "Now I will just go out and enjoy myself and see what happens. But I'm fed up with bashing my head against a wall with so little success."

With just five strokes covering the leading 25 players, the climax of the tournament could prove exciting as neither Norret nor Rankin has won a tournament while Bisazza's last success was in 1996, the same year as Watson's only win.

Rankin, who has not enjoyed the best of times in his first year on the Challenge Tour, reproduced his Walker Cup form with two birdies and 16 pars in a 70 for 210 alongside Bisazza who had 71.

Houston also kept a bogey off his card in returning a best-of-the-day 68 to move through the field while Stuart Little from England went out in 31 to go seven under but he couldn't maintain it, dropping four strokes for a 71 and 212.

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Tournament Leaderboard

PosPlayer NameNatHolePar
T1WEBSTER, Shaun PENG18-6
T1RANKIN , GrahamSCO18-6
T3LARA, José ManuelESP18-5
T3HURD, SimonENG18-5
T3CÉVAËR, ChristianFRA18-5
T3HAWKSWORTH, JohnENG18-5
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