Waterloo is set for yet another great battle on Sunday afternoon, but unlike the bloodshed of Napoleon and Wellington’s epic encounter nearly 200 years ago on the nearby Battleground, the Royal Waterloo Golf Club will host a friendly war as Nicloas Vanhootegem and Didier De Vooght go head-to-head for the Telenet Trophy.
Going into the final round in Belgium, home heroes Vanhootegem and De Vooght are separated by just two strokes with 18 holes to play.
The Belgian due, respectively aged 34 and 33, have being playing against one another since they were kids coming through the ranks in their homeland, and they are looking forward to staging out their biggest battle yet in front of an expectant home crowds.
Of the two, Vanhootegem had the better third round, putting together an fine four under par 68 to De Vooght’s level par 72, to move to 15 under par 201, while De Vooght remains 13 under for the tournament.
Nicolas Colsaerts, who made up the all-Belgian final three ball of the third round, also matched De Vooght’s 72 to remain on nine under par and remain in contention for the title, but it will take an Herculean effort for him to make up six strokes on Vanhootegem given the leaders outstanding form over the last fortnight.
Joining Colsaerts on nine under, and looking to spoil the Belgian party, are Chile’s Felipe Aguilar and Englishman Anthony Tarchetti, while Challenge Tour Number One Edoardo Molinari of Italy lies alongside former Ryder Cup star Peter Baker on seven under.
But the final round focus will certainly fall on the in-form Vanhootegem, who took second place in Toulouse last week, and De Vooght as they carry the hopes of a nation at Royal Waterloo.
Interviewed together after their third round, the pair were in jovial mood as they looked forward to clashing once again.
“Nicolas played very nicely again today, and it’s great to see him playing so well after last week because he was robbed in Toulouse – now it’s my turn to try and rob him tomorrow!” laughed De Vooght.
“We played a lot together as we were growing up. Nicolas is a year older, and wiser than me, but I think of all the head-to-head battles we will call it even going into tomorrow.”
“I would say it’s even over about 20 years,” Vanhootegem agreed, before De Vooght added, “it’s great to still have two Belgian’s up at the top of the leaderboard going into the final round – you can’t ask for more.
“You certainly don’t see the amount of people that were here today out on the Challenge Tour, so, as I said yesterday, this tournament has been a great success no matter what happens.
Asked if there will be nerves going into the final round carrying the hopes of a nation, the pair responded candidly.
“Will there be nerves tomorrow?” De Vooght responded, “they were there already today! It has been a long time since I played in the last match of the day after the cut so I felt it a little bit today. I’m sure they will be there again tomorrow, but I can’t have time for them as I have some catching up to do.”
Vanhootegem said: “Nerves are part of the game – you just have to try and use them to your advantage and be positive.”
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