England’s Seve Benson climbed off his sick bed to shoot an incredible course record ten under par 62 to lead by four shots going into the final round of the European Challenge Tour’s Piemonte Open.
The joint overnight leader had been a doubtful starter after suffering from a fever and muscle pain but he battled on gallantly to card 11 birdies and just one bogey to finish on 17 under par.
It was a remarkable performance from the 21 year old, who is only playing in his first Challenge Tour season, with conditions made even worse for him by driving rain on the back nine.
All of the field were playing on the Royal Park Golf and Country Club today, after the opening two rounds were split between that course and the Circolo Golf Torino.
The Royal Park Golf and Country Club had proved the less daunting of the two courses and it continued to be to the players’ liking, with Benson’s 62 among a number of low scores, including a seven under par 65 from fellow Englishman James Morrison who is tied in second place with Switzerland’s Raphaёl De Sousa, who shot a six under par 66.
Benson admitted it had been a tough day for him and said his focus had just been getting to the end of his round.
He said: “I was really just trying to get through it today because I was feeling so rough. I felt bad coming towards the last few holes so I was happy with the way I played.
“I just want to get to bed now ready for tomorrow. I didn’t have any expectations coming into the round today because of the way I was feeling. I was happy to play as well as I did and I was delighted with a 62.”
Benson said he was looking forward to going up against his countryman Morrison, whom he knows well from their days together on the amateur circuit when the pair were members of the Surrey Team that won the English County Championship in 2004 at Worksop.
He said: “It’s good to have friends on the Challenge Tour and we are both playing our first full season so hopefully we can do well.”
Morrison, who had been joint leader after the first day, paid tribute to Benson’s brave round.
He said: “I saw Seve just before I went out and he did not look in good shape at all so to shoot what he did today was pretty special.”
Morrison, who carded a respectable two over par 74 yesterday on the tougher Circolo Golf Torino, came flying out of the traps with six birdies in the first nine holes. The 23 year old picked up a further shot on the 14th hole before finishing on a bogey and a birdie.
“I started really well today then putted well throughout the round so I’m delighted with my score,” he said. “I actually played quite well yesterday but had two bogeys coming back in but I was happy with my score on that course.
“On Royal Park it is much easier to score low. I came out hoping to make some birdies today and that’s what I did. The rough is less penal here and I was really happy with the way I played.
“This is my first full Challenge Tour card and it’s great to be playing every week. I’ve had a so-so start to the season with two missed cuts and a 14th and 19th placed finish so I’ve been waiting to come through. The season is now really started to kick off with tournaments coming every week so it would be a nice time to come into form.”
Joint overnight leader De Sousa quickly birdied the last hole to card a six under par round of 66 for a share of second place on 13 under par going into the final day.
He said: “I was playing without a caddie so when it started raining on the 13th it was particularly tough but I played really well. I putted pretty much everything again and my long game was on form as well. I’m just going to try to keep doing what I’m doing tomorrow and hopefully I’ll be there at the end.”
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