Friday, 16 July 2004
Sweden’s Henrik Nystrom continued to demonstrate the model of golfing consistency at the Texbond Open at Gardagolf Country Club – carding his third consecutive sub 70 round to reach a 14 under par 202 total and take a one shot lead from Englishman Sam Little.

Nystrom, who returned to the European Challenge Tour this season after five years on The European Tour, put together a third round of four under 68 to supplement his opening pair of 67s going into the final round of the inaugural Texbond Open.

The 35 year old was delighted to maintain his brilliant form over the first three days of the tournament – and is now looking to close out what would be a maiden Challenge Tour victory.

“Everything is going well for me at the moment,” said Nystrom, who compiled five birdies, 12 pars and a solitary dropped shot for his 68. “My game is really coming together which is something I have been waiting for.

“Above everything else, my putting stroke is in great shape this week – that has been the real difference, especially on the beautiful greens that we have here at Gardagolf.”

Little, just one behind Nystrom and two ahead of Italy’s Massimo Scarpa, is also feeling the benefit of a smooth putting action. The 28 year old has been playing beautifully over the past month, but could not buy a putt as he missed three consecutive cuts – much to his frustration.

It has all changed this week though. Little, who won the Formby Hall Challenge in 2001, found his feet at Gardagolf with an opening round of 71, before his putter caught fire and helped him to respective second and third round scores of 65-67 to get to within one of Nystrom.

“The only difference in my game between this week and the past three – where I missed three cuts in a row – has been the putter. For whatever reason I have started to hole a few more putts and as a result I am in contention.

“I have been playing really nicely and was solid again out there today. I was up at the top of the leaderboard after a great birdie at the par three ninth and on the back nine I just made sure that I would be in contention for the final round, which I have done so I am happy with that.”

Scarpa, meanwhile, shot three under 69 to get post an 11 under 205 aggregate and take third place. He is one ahead of his compatriot Massimo Florioli – who fired a third round 70 and is on ten under par alongside second round leader Shaun Webster of England.

Argentina’s Ariel Canete, Mikael Lundberg of Sweden and England’s Tim Milford are a further shot back with another eight players bunched together on eight under par – ensuring that there will be plenty of competition for that top prize of €17,600 if Nystrom and Little leave their putting strokes on the practice ground.

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