Anders Hansen produced a record breaking performance at Wentworth Club to spreadeagle the high-quality field and take a commanding lead into the final round of the Volvo PGA Championship.
Two shots ahead at the start of the day, the 31 year old Dane carded a superb 66 for a 17 under par total of 199 to finish the day five shots clear of nearest challenger Carlos Rodiles with Eduardo Romero a further shot behind on ten under par 206.
Nick Faldo, Mark McNulty and Colin Montgomerie were next in the chasing pack at nine under par 207, but they were all part of the supporting cast to the star turn Hansen, whose 54 hole total was the record for the Championship at Wentworth Club, beating the previous best of 201 set by Seve Ballesteros in 1991 and Andrew Oldcorn last year.
Both players, of course, went on to win the flagship event on The European Tour International Schedule but Hansen did not want to talk about the likelihood of emulating the duo. It was perhaps understandable considering no player, yet, in Volvo PGA Championship has made the prestigious event his maiden victory
“I haven’t won the tournament yet as far as I know,” he said. “I believe we still have 18 holes to play so we can talk about that tomorrow. But I feel great. I didn’t play too well at the start but my short game kept me together and I felt I was really coming back into it down the stretch. To shoot 66, obviously I am very pleased.
“But tomorrow is another day. Obviously I am playing pretty solidly otherwise I wouldn’t have the score that I have. But what is going to happen in the final round, who knows? I will just try to keep on doing what I have been doing and they then will have to shoot a pretty decent score to beat me.”
Certainly, if Hansen repeats his third round form he will be almost impossible to catch. In a near immaculate third round, his only dropped shot came at the short fifth where he overshot the green, but seven birdies elsewhere more than made up for that.
The man with the closest view of Hansen in the final round will be his nearest challenger and playing partner, Carlos Rodiles, who carded an excellent 68 for a 12 under par total of 204, his cause greatly helped by a flawless back nine of 32, which featured five birdies.
Like Hansen, the 27 year old Spaniard has yet to win on The European Tour International Schedule, his best finish to date being a tie for fourth place in the 2000 North West of Ireland Open.
“I didn’t think I was going to finish so well,” he said. “My start wasn’t good and I was putting badly. I got very upset after dropping a shot at the sixth but my caddy calmed me down a bit, then I relaxed and played hole-by-hole, shot-by-shot and tried to enjoy myself which, in the end, I did.
“I feel okay but there is one more day to go. A top five finish would be very good but I am aware that three days good work can be ruined in just one.”
Nearest challenger to the leading pair was the experienced Argentine Eduardo Romero, whose 71 gave him a ten under par total of 206, but who looked out of contention before he finished with eagle threes at each of the last two holes on the West Course to catapult himself back up the leaderboard.
“On the 17th fairway, the BBC Radio reporter Ross McFarlane asked me if I had ever finished three-three here. I said I couldn’t remember ever doing it but I’d give it go…and I did it!” he said.
“I never give up though. Hansen was way out in front but the rest were around eight or nine under so I knew I was still in there. If the wind blows tomorrow then anything can happen – I think I still have a chance.”
Of the three players on nine under par 207, the happiest was Mark McNulty who finished with three birdies to rescue an errant round and post a 71. Nick Faldo birdied the 16th and 18th for a 68 while Colin Montgomerie, who led after the first round with a 64, continued to battle back pains and could do no better than a level par 72.