English Ryder Cup player Peter Baker drew on the memories of his victory in the Credit Suisse Challenge two years ago by storming into a share of the lead going into the final round at Wylihof Golf Club, Luterbach, Swizteland, today.
Baker, who used a third round 66 as the platform for his successful title surge in 2007, repeated that score this time around to tie with American Nathan Smith (68) at the top of the leaderboard.
The leading pair are on 207, 12 under par, a shot clear of Austrian Florian Praegant and halfway leader, John Parry of England, who shot rounds of 66 and 72 respectively.
Baker, whose two Challenge Tour titles in 2007 secured a return to The European Tour, now hopes that Switzerland can be the springboard to another crack at the big-time in 2010, which will be his 24th year on Tour.
“Although the conditions this week are very different from when I won here in 2007, you can’t beat good memories of winning” said the three-time European Tour champion. “It was very wet two years ago, but the course here seems to suit my game.
“When you’ve won over a certain course, you know where to place the ball and which shots you need to play and I think that has helped me greatly this week. I played well for the first two days without getting any putts to drop, but I made a good birdie on the seventh today and then ‘stiffed’ my approach for another at the ninth. That gave me the momentum to make five birdies coming home.”
Smith, a 25 year old Californian, celebrated Independence Day in the Alps rather than his usual haunt of the beach in Santa Cruz near San Francisco.
“I would normally be enjoying a nice barbecue on the beach on the 4th of July back home, but I am not complaining about being here and playing in the final group” said Smith, who missed out on his card by one shot at the 2008 Qualifying School – Final Stage.
“That really frustrated me,” he continued. “But I felt it was worth persevering over here and trying to see what I could do on the Challenge Tour. I won on the Hooters Tour in the States in 2007 but felt I could improve my golf here and see the world at the same time.
“In order to get to know yourself, you need to get out of your comfort zone, and I am really pleased that I made that decision. I’ve had no trouble making friends here and now I need to get the winning habit.”