Saturday, 28 July 2012
Chris Paisley  (Getty Images)
Chris Paisley (Getty Images)
Chris Paisley launched himself into pole position at the English Challenge in the most spectacular fashion as the Englishman holed the first albatross of his life on the way to a seven under par third round of 65 to move two shots clear of Wales’ Stuart Manley.

The 26 year old’s two at the par five 16th hole came courtesy of a four iron approach from 227 yards, which rolled into the hole and contributed to a six under par back nine as he enters the final day at Stoke by Nayland Hotel, Golf and Spa on 15 under.

Paisley had reached the turn in just one under par and was six shots off the lead at the tenth hole, before his round caught fire with back to back birdies at the 13th and 14th.

Then came his crowning moment, after driving to the semi-rough on the right hand side, as his four iron pitched short of the green to the right and rolled into the cup.

“Golf is such a bizarre game,” said the Newcastle man. “I really didn’t feel like I was playing well on the front nine. I didn’t have a bogey but I had a few up and downs to save par and I struggled around the turn, not playing badly but just not playing as well as I had been.

“I made a nice birdie on the 13th and then an up and down for birdie at 14, so I was starting to play a bit better and all of a sudden I hit a nice shot at 16 and it just went in. To be fair I was aiming at a different spot but I pushed it a fraction and it bounced a couple of times and dropped in.

“It was amazing. It was resting against the flag so I didn’t know it was in until I got to within 20 yards and then I just let it drop down.

“I was on the next tee and it was just a big adrenaline rush. All of sudden I looked at the leaderboard and I was in the lead and I just thought, ‘where did that come from?’

“I had to gather myself and settle myself down and then I played 17 well and birdied 18, after pushing it again!”
Vying for his first European Challenge Tour title, Paisley now knows that he must temper his excitement overnight but heads into the final day in confident mood.

“I'm going to have a good chance going into tomorrow so I just have to go and do some work on the range and I’ll give it a good shot tomorrow,” he said.

“I need to keep that momentum going. I've shot seven under without playing particularly well. You do need a bit of luck to win tournaments and I got my bit today but there’s a long way to go and it’s going to be tight so I have to go and play another really good round tomorrow. I can’t wait.”

Manley’s round couldn’t have finished any more differently to that of his prospective playing partner for the final round as he double-bogeyed the final hole, but there were plenty of positives for the 33 year old as he carded six birdies and an eagle on the way to a two under par round of 70 to move to 13 under.

“I started great,” he said. “I was aggressive and went for my shots and tried to put a bit of pressure on Robert (Dinwiddie, joint overnight leader). The eagle at the fifth really got me going.

“I had a couple of blips on the back nine with sloppy bogeys at 13 and 14 and bounced back with a couple of birdies and it’s a shame about the last. There was no sand in the bunker where I was on the side slope and I knifed it over the green. I don’t think I really deserved that but that’s golf.

“I still feel confident. It’s nice to be in the final group and if I can go and put some pressure on Chris and get birdies early on, you never know.”

Two more Englishman still harboured hopes of a home win as James Busby and Francis McGuirk both carded five under par rounds of 67 to share third place going into the final day, three shots off Paisley’s lead.

Last week’s winner on the Challenge Tour, Espen Kofstad, was a shot further back in tied fifth alongside American Brooks Koepka after they also both carded five under par rounds of 67.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1PAISLEY, ChrisENG18-16
2MCGUIRK, FrancisENG18-14
3KOFSTAD, EspenNOR18-12
T5NIXON, MatthewENG18-10
T5BUSBY, JamesENG18-10
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