Rolf Muntz, Holland’s most successful golfer of the modern era, sets out in the final round of the Qatar Masters at Doha Golf club bidding to become the first Dutch winner on the European Tour.
Muntz, 30, produced a marvellously controlled display in the incessant wind at Doha to shoot a five under par 67 in the third round – the day’s lowest score by two shots – to establish a six stroke lead over Australian Stephen Leaney.
The Dutchman leads on an eight under par total of 208, with Leaney, 70, trailing by six and the remainder of the field with a lot of work to do to get within striking distance of the pair at the top.
Muntz and Leaney – coincidentally a past winner of Muntz’s native championship, the Dutch Open, are the only players in the field under par after three tricky rounds in difficult windy conditions. However both proved with that skilful shot-making and a calm temperament, the course and conditions could be masters.
The leading pair are clear of a chasing group of three players on level par – Denmark’s Soren Kjeldsen, who was second last year, Paul McGinley of Ireland and Swede Mathias Gronberg, the joint halfway leader along with Muntz.
Muntz has come close to winning the Dutch title in the past and even closer to lifting the Scottish PGA Championship last August, when he lost to Warren Bennett in a play-off at Gleneagles.
He said: “I guess I would be the first Dutch winner since the start of the European Tour. It would be a good feeling. People at home say: ‘you haven’t won yet, what’s going on?’, but it’s not as easy as that. You need three good rounds to be up there and finish it off with a good fourth one. To win would be very, very positive.”
A past British Amateur champion, Muntz is Holland’s most famous golfer since he turned professional in 1993. He added: “I think we had winners of the Dutch Open in the past but that was a long, long time ago. Here we are talking of the European Tour, the modern era.”
Leaney recovered from a double bogey five at the third hole to complete the rest of his card in four under par. His 70 left him on 214, a long way behind Muntz, but feeling just pleased to be back in contention.
The Australian missed almost a month of the season with a hairline fracture of the ring finger on his left hand – sustained playing in a charity cricket match following the Greg Norman Holden Classic.
He said: “I had the chance to play at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. It was my dream to play there and I was wicket keeper. Dean Jones, out captain, threw one in at pace from 50 yards out and it didn’t go right into the glove properly. Hopefully they will arrange the match for Christmas next year when we’re not playing golf!”