England’s Sam Walker produced a majestic links golf performance to take control of the Scottish Challenge, carving out a quite unbelievable third round score of seven under par 64 amidst howling, gusting winds to move to 12 under 201 for the tournament and into a four shot lead from New Zealand’s Gareth Paddison and Welshman Gareth Wright.
The course record at Murcar, set during round two by the Scots duo of Ritchie Ramsay and Chris Doak, may be 63, but Walker’s 64 was without a doubt the round of the tournament thus far.
It was an unbelievable effort given the strength of the winds that battered Murcar Links Golf Club on the north east coast of Scotland. As the south westerly gusts howled into the players’ faces on the back nine, allowing the course to claim so many shots, Walker was unyielding.
The 28 year old from Birmingham put on a shot-making master class to surge through the field and into the lead. He started with a tap-in birdie at the first to set the tone for the day, before making his only bogey of the round after finding the gorse with his drive at the second.
From there, Walker set about constructing one of the best single round performances the Challenge Tour has ever seen. A great birdie at the third was followed by an eagle three at the fourth, then another birdie at the fifth. He picked up a further stroke at the eighth to turn in five under par 31, before gathering another two strokes with back to back birdies on the 11th and 12th.
Walker would finish his round with six straight pars, which was no easy achievement in the back nine conditions, but it could have been even better as he lipped out for birdies on the 15th and 16th. A great par on the 17th left just one hole to go before Walker could reflect on one of the best rounds of his life, but the 18th was not to be without drama as the Englishman finished the day with a miraculous par.
His tee shot came to rest on the edge of a fairway bunker, leaving him in a horrible standing position from which he did well to pop the ball up in the air with his seven iron. The shot he struck was more than deserving of some good fortune, but all he got was bad luck as his ball came to rest on the lip of the greenside bunker.
After taking a few minutes to confirm what the watching crowd already knew, Walker found himself in the bunker, gripping his putter halfway down the shaft and stabbing his ball, which was a good four feet above his feet, towards the hole.
It came to rest six feet from the cup, and Walker spared no time in rolling home his fourth shot for an impossible four.
“I have had one of the best rounds I have ever had today,” Walker stated definitively. “It was all about shot making out there today and that’s what my game’s about. I have got that ability in the bag and I just played brilliantly today. I’m at my best on links courses so I am really pleased with that.”
Paddison also had plenty to be pleased about, his four under 67 moving him into second spot alongside Wright – who posted a third round 73 – on eight under par 205, but the day was all about Sam Walker, who took plaudits from so many of his peers after his exemplary performance.
Scotland’s Murray Urquhart summed it up best of all, saying: “To shoot 64 in those conditions today was just awesome. Sam deserves to be leading by four shots after that, because that was an unbelievable round of golf.”
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