Angel Cabrera of Argentina, chasing his maiden victory on the European Tour, stands in the way of teenage ‘wonder kid’, Sergio Garcia in what promises to be a thrilling climax to the Murphy’s Irish Open at Druids glen.
Cabrera, 29, from Cordoba, fired a five under par 66 for a three round total of 202, 11 under par, and lead by two shots from his fellow Spanish-speaker Garcia.
The youngster, making only his fourth start on the European Tour, will play in the final group for the first time, knowing that he can be the first teenager to win a title since Paul Way, who captured the Dutch Open in 1982 at 19 – the same age as Garcia.
Garcia admitted that his inward nine, which contained two eagles and only two pars, was the best nine holes of his left as he shot a round of 67 to move into a tie for second place with Jarrod Moseley of Australia.
The impressive Spaniard conceded: “I played probably the best golf of my life on the back nine. I think my position is good although in the conditions today I expected I might have been tied for the lead at nine under.
“I’m not surprising myself as how well my professional career is going. When I was an amateur coming here I was asked if I was coming here to make the cut. I always said I was coming to win. That is my mentality and I was waiting for this time.”
Cabrera, winner of 15 titles on the South American Tour, came close to breaking through in 1996 but he was pipped at the post for the Oki Pro-am in Madrid by American Tom Kite.
He said: “There are about ten players with a chance to win, not just Sergio Garcia. I won a lot of tournaments in South America so I have experience of winning. It is not quite the same as this but I wasn’t far off last time in the Benson and Hedges and I feel I can do it.”
Moseley, winner of the Heineken Classic in Australia at the start of the season, shot a 69 to share second place with Garcia while Michael Campbell of New Zealand made progress with a 68 for 205, eight under par.
However the expected charge from two-time winner Colin Montgomerie failed to materialise. The Scot had moved ominously to nine under par with two holes remaining but he bogeyed the last two holes, three putting the 17th and missing the green at the last.
He said: “I had 36 putts. I single putted the 11th and three putted the 17th and two putted every other green. It was just one of these days. Golf is more difficult than people expect sometimes.”
That sentiment would be echoed by American John Daly. Having opened with a birdie to move to two under par, Daly lost his way and plunged to a round of 81 which left him stone last in the field on nine over par.