Eduardo Romero took a leaf out of the Tiger Woods textbook when he fired an impressive nine under par 62 to establish an eight stroke lead going into the final round of the Canon European Masters at sun drenched Crans-Sur-Sierre.
Romero, known as ‘El Gato’ – the cat – had been on the prowl since Thursday, when he opened with a round of 64. He built a three shot lead at halfway after a 68, but then pounced on his main rivals with the lowest score of his life and a new course record of 62.
The popular Argentinian had two eagles and five birdies in his round, which secured a 19 under par total of 194 and an eight shot advantage over Ireland’s Darren Clarke (67) and Switzerland’s local hero, Paulo Quirici.
Now Romero aims to become the oldest winner on the European Tour since his compatriot Vicente Fernandez won the English Open at The Belfry in 1992. Fernandez was 46 and 119 days when he triumphed; Romero is 46 and 52 days.
“Of course I always thought it was possible to win in my forties” said Romero, whose last success came in the same tournament high in the Alps six years ago. “It’s good practice for the Seniors Tour!”
However Romero refuses to accept that his job is finished. He said: “Tomorrow I will just try to do the same things as I did today. The tournament is not over yet. There is one round to go and I have to play well.”
He added: “I played fantastic. My best round of the year. I felt completely different from yesterday. It was another person on the course, relaxed and concentrating well. I didn’t see anybody on the course today, not friends or anyone. It was just a case of focus, shot, flag.”
Romero made a superb start to his round, birdieing the first and holing his wedge from 145 yards at the second. Another eagle at the ninth, with a three wood second from 285 yards to six feet, helped him turn in 30. He added three further birdies on the back nine for his 62 which, due to course alterations, constitutes the new record.
Quirici kept the huge Swiss galleries on their toes as he eagled the first and picked up a further five birdies to turn in 29. However he bogeyed the 15th and missed from one foot at the last for another bogey and a round of 66.
He shares third place with Phillip Price (67) while Clarke has sole possession of second place on 202. It was an up and down day for Clarke, who eagled the first but failed to capitalise on numerous birdie chances and a bogey at the 16th left him trailing Romero by eight.
“I’ve come from a long way back before but I won’t tomorrow if I continue to putt like this” he said. “It was the same old story – miss, miss, miss, miss!”
Until Romero hit top gear, it seemed that Scotland’s Dean Robertson would set a new course record. Robertson, starting out at two over par, compiled an eight under par 63 after deciding to give the practice ground a miss before his tee off time.
“I was so disgusted with my game I decided not to bother” he said. “Then on the fifth I was despondent so I changed my swing thought and started to hit it better. After that I managed to hit it close.”Day 3 Video Highlights