A red-hot putter propelled Swede Mikael Lundberg into a seven stroke lead going into the final round of the Toscana Open Italian Federation Cup as he looks to secure his place on next season’s European Tour.
Lundberg fired a sensational course record nine under par 62 at La Pavoniere Golf and Country Club in Tuscany to move to 195, 18 under par, and seven clear of Finland’s Toni Karjalainen in the penultimate event of the 2007 Challenge Tour season.
Overnight leader Robert Dinwiddie of England fired a one over par 72 to lie in a share of third place on ten under par 203 alongside compatriot Robert Coles (70), Finn Roope Kakko (69) and Argentina’s Julio Zapata (67).
The 34 year old Lundberg, winner of the 2005 Russian Open on The European Tour, currently lies 16th on the Challenge Tour Rankings with the top 20 after next week’s Apulia San Domenico Grand Final earning a place on The 2008 European Tour. Victory would lift him into the top ten and make certain of a return to the top flight.
For 14 holes, Lundberg simply couldn’t miss as he rolled in ten birdie putts from all angles to pull well clear of the field. Thoughts of a 59 inevitably started to enter his head and when he failed to make birdie from a relatively simple up and down on the 15th, he lost momentum and dropped his only shot of the day on the 16th. But he regrouped to par the last two to maintain a huge lead with a round that was an incredible five strokes better than anyone else in the field.
“I didn’t feel I played that well from tee to green but putted like a God,” said Lundberg. “Putts went in from everywhere. It is by far the best round I have had with the putter.”
Among his ten birdies, three huge putts stood out, from 20 metres on the fourth, 15 metres on the fifth and ten metres on the 14th. But it was a missed birdie putt from just two metres on the 15th that halted his charge.
“I was just trying to stay out of my own way and let things keep happening,” he added. “It is nice when all the things you have been working on come good. I was thinking this is what Tiger Woods feels like on the greens.
“Of course, when I started thinking about it over the last three holes and started trying, it went a little wrong but it was good to par the last as that is a tough hole.”
Despite taking a seven stroke lead into the final round, Lundberg is determined not to be complacent.
“It is nice to have that lead but anyone can shoot a course record tomorrow. Hopefully my experience will help. I really want to get back on The European Tour and if I can do that tomorrow that will mean a great deal.”