Angel Cabrera of Argentina goes into the final round of a European Tour event in the last group of the day holding the belief that his luck will finally turn in the Qatar Masters at Doha Golf Club.
Twice previously the 31 year old Argentine has played nicely but been outmanoeuvred by some dazzling shot making, first by Sergio Garcia in the 1999 Murphy’s Irish Open and then by Lee Westwood in last season’s Smurfit European Open.
Cabrera, who plays in the final group with Robert Karlsson – seeking an all-the-way victory – was outscored 64-69 by the precocious young Spaniard on his first experience of being in front. Then last season Westwood’s 66 to Cabrera’s 68 proved decisive.
“Maybe I can be the one to shoot the low score” said the powerful man from Cordoba. “I’ve been close twice before but when people shoot such low scores against you it’s difficult. I will play my own game and not worry about anyone else.
“I am a better golfer now. I have not been too disappointed at not winning so far. It’s not a problem. I know I will have a lot of chances – it is coming.”
Karlsson, the outright halfway leader having shared that position with Mark Pilkington after the opening day, seemed in danger of dropping out of contention when he bogeyed the fourth and fifth and double bogeyed the eighth.
However he rallied strongly with five birdies on the homeward stretch for a round of 70 and a 13 under par total of 203 to join Cabrera at the top of the leaderboard. Scotland’s Dean Robertson and Tony Johnstone of Zimbabwe come next on 204, 12 under par, with Olivier Edmond fifth and 1999 Open champion Paul Lawrie sharing sixth.
Karlsson, chasing his fourth European Tour title, held a two stroke lead going into the third round but after nine holes found himself two shots in arrears. The nadir of the round was the eighth hole, where he four putted for that double bogey.
“I sort of lost my rhythm and panicked a little” he said; “When I came to the turn I thought there were still 27 holes left and I was only two shots behind the leader. I had a great back nine to get back into it.”
Johnstone, 44, is now seeking to emulate his fellow Zimbabwean, Mark McNulty, who triumphed in the Mercedes-Benz South African Open in January at the age of 47. He fired a superb round of 66, with just 21 putts, to muscle his way into contention.
Last week Johnstone had shot a 63 in the Dubai Desert Classic to confirm the re-awakening of his career following a three year slumber caused by chronic putting problems.
“I came off the course after the third round of the Dimension Data Pro-Am in Sun City and said to my wife: ‘That’s it. No more.’ I had decided that enough was enough but in fact it gave me a jolt and galvanised me into doing something about it.
"I felt really great with my putting stroke and I putted fantastic all week. I’ve been through the mill for six years and come through it and immediately my sense of enjoyment for the game has changed. I am absolutely loving it again.”
Robertson, winner of the Italian Open two years ago, is attempting to become the third Scottish champion in four years following the successes of Andrew Coltart in 1998 and Lawrie twelve months later.
Like the two aforementioned, Robertson enjoys the strong winds which sweep across the Doha course almost daily and after a third successive round in the sixties – a four under par 68 for 204 – he insisted: “Hopefully it will continue to blow tomorrow. I would be disappointed if it went away. You’ve got to go out and battle and when the wind’s howling this is a great test of golf.”3rd Round Video Highlights