Friday, 19 March 2010

A bout of self psychology, coupled with a superb 30 foot birdie putt, helped Robert Dinwiddie take a two shot lead over George Murray at the Scottish Challenge presented by Bank of Scotland Corporate.

The Englishman was not entirely satisfied with his mindset over the opening seven holes of his third round at the Macdonald Hotel Golf and Country Club, but after re-focusing himself and then draining that 30 footer on the eighth hole, Dinwiddie surged forward and picked up a further four birdies en route to a four under par 68.

That ensured a 15 under 201 total and a two shot advantage over Scotsman Murray, with another Scot Peter Whiteford – who double bogeyed the par five 18th after losing a ball – and Welshman Jamie Donaldson on 12 under.

Dinwiddie is hoping to close out what would be a maiden Challenge Tour victory after a formidable amateur record before turning professional at the end of last season, having played in the 2005 Walker Cup and collected the 2005 Scottish and Welsh Amateur Open Strokeplay Championships as well as the English edition in 2006.

“I played nicely although didn’t feel as focused as I should have been for the first few holes,” said Dinwiddie.

“Then I managed to roll in a really nice birdie putt on the eight and that got me going for the round.

“It can be tough when you don’t feel entirely focused but you have to try and have a talk to yourself and holing a nice putt as I did in the eighth is often the best way to boost your spirits.

“I’m just going to go out and play tomorrow. I have to be patient but I am really looking forward to it. It’s exciting to be in this position and hopefully I can finis the job.”

Despite the damp, soggy conditions at the Macdonald Cardrona Hotel Golf and Club, Murray produced a brilliant third round performance, the best round of the day, to sign for a seven under 65. 

“If I can shoot the same again tomorrow I’ll be in with a great chance. It was solid today – I only ever looked like dropping one shot but I managed to get up and down from 110 yards.

“I putted well today, the best I have done for some while which I have needed to do because I need a big week.”

As the Scottish Challenge presented by Bank of Scotland Corporate enters its final round, hopes of a home winner are high, with Murray and Whiteford joined by Jamie McLeary and amateur star Lloyd Saltman in contention for the title.

McLeary and Saltman carded matching 66s on day three to finish on 11 under 205 and four shots off the lead.

McLeary is hoping for a strong finish to kick start his season and break into the Challenge Tour’s top 100, while Saltman, who looks likely to turn professional after the forthcoming Walker Cup, is gauging his skills against some of Europe’s best young professionals.

The 22 year old Saltman is currently ranked third on the R&A’s amateur world rankings, a statistic he has thoroughly justified this week with a performance packed with class, control and authority, having played his last 42 holes of the tournament without dropping a stroke.

It promises to be a thrilling final day, with some of the Challenge Tour’s highest ranked players of 2007 in position to make a bid for the €32,000 first prize that would guarantee their place on The 2008 European Tour via the top 20 on the Rankings.

Currently 19th with season’s earnings of €36,195, Donaldson can almost double his money with a winning surge from his current position of third on 12 under; while Dutchman Joost Luiten can earn instant promotion to The European Tour by collecting his third title of 2007.

The 21 year old is currently fourth on the Rankings and sitting ominously on 11 under par 205 given his record of unbelievable final rounds this season. Luiten won in France with a last day 64 before re-writing Challenge Tour history in Germany with a stunning final round 61, the lowest final round by a winner in the tour’s history.

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Tournament Leaderboard

PosPlayer NameNatHolePar
1DINWIDDIE, RobertENG18-20
2MCLEARY, JamieSCO18-16
3HIGGINS, DavidIRL18-15
T4SALTMAN, LloydSCO18-13
T4DEL MORAL, CarlosESP18-13
T4ZANOTTI, FabrizioPAR18-13
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