Scotland’s David Drysdale and England’s Sam Walker are set to go head to head for a place on The 2005 European Tour International Schedule in the final round of the European Challenge Tour’s Bouygues Telecom Grand Final.
Both 12 under par after three rounds at the Golf du Médoc in Bordeaux, Drysdale and Walker lead the Swedish duo of Oskar Bergman and Mattias Eliasson by two shots, with both players needing to win the first prize of €34,250 to guarantee a place in top 15 of the Challenge Tour Rankings and secure a seat at European golf’s top table.
It is sure to be one of the most intense final rounds of both players’ careers as they bid to secure a potentially life-changing return to The Tour next season. The British duo both had Cards in 2001, but have never experienced anything like this week at the Grand Final before, where a 29 week season will come down to an 18-hole shoot-out.
Drysdale, who added a third round 69 to his previous score of 67 and 65, summed the tension up perfectly, saying: “I’ve led European Tour events, played in front of 10,000 people but have never felt as nervous as I did on the first tee today before. Everything was moving apart for the ball, but I ended up hitting a great drive and that settled me down.
“I played nicely today, but left a few putts out there that I should have buried. Hopefully that will change tomorrow because there is a hell of a lot riding on one round of golf tomorrow. As I said earlier in the week, it’s all or nothing for me this week – we’ll just have to wait and see what tomorrow brings.”
Walker carded the lowest round of the week at the Golf du Médoc to join Drysdale at the top of the leaderboard, putting together a scintillating 64 to move from five under into a share of the lead.
“It’s good to shoot a low one and get myself into contention,” said the 26 year old. “I’ll be in the last group tomorrow and I’ll have a real chance of getting my Card which is all that I could have hoped for at the start of the week.
“I need to win to get into the top 15 and it would be nice to put another good score on the board tomorrow to have a shot at it because I have been playing some really good golf over the last few months but just haven’t been putting the four scores together that I need.
“The plan for tomorrow is to do exactly as I did today. I’m going to go for it because I don’t think there is any other way for me to play to be honest. I’m at my best when I’m relaxed on the course and hopefully I will be the same again tomorrow. There is a lot of pressure here but I had nothing to lose at the start of the week and hopefully I can keep that attitude tomorrow.”
While Bergman and Eliasson will be doing their utmost to catch the leaders in their own bids to secure a place among the Challenge Tour’s elite, the race for the title of Challenge Tour Champion 2004 will provide its own intriguing subtext, with current Number One Alessandro Tadini of Italy starting the final round one shot behind Number Two Lee Slattery of England. Tadini tops the Rankings by just €1500 and Slattery could well pass the 29 year old Italian by finishing ahead of him on Sunday night.
It is going to be an intense, roller coaster of a finale to the 2004 Challenge Tour season and all that is certain is that both extremes of the emotional spectrum will be on display in Bordeaux on Sunday evening.