It might not have been as spectacular as his opening two efforts, but Fredrik Jacobson’s third round 71 was good enough to maintain his lead in The Barclays Scottish Open at Loch Lomond.
The 27 year old Swede, who now resides in Monaco, started the day four shots in front but ended it only one ahead on 11 under par 202, one shot clear of Argentine Eduardo Romero who carded a superb 65 for 203 and two clear of Australian Stephen Leaney and Englishman Justin Rose.
Michael Campbell, winner of last week’s Smurfit European Open at The K Club, shared fourth place with Warren Bennett on eight under par 205, and while all the chasing pack maintained realistic hopes of a Sunday success on the Bonnie Banks, Jacobson remained the man to catch.
The Swede, who has finished second five times on The European Tour International Schedule, admitted to being nervous in the opening stages although he recovered well with three birdies to offset his three dropped shots.
“I think I missed a good chance to get further into the lead today,” he said. “I shot level par and I’m still in the lead so that tells you there was not a lot happening behind me. My long game was good but my putting was not as it had been over the first two days.
“I gave myself chances but it is not enough to hit approach shots to ten feet if you don’t convert them. But I am still in the lead and all I want to do tomorrow is go out and play as well as I can to give myself the best chance I can to win.”
Birdies at the 13th and 15th gave Jacobson’s confidence a lift and although he dropped a shot at the 17th where he missed from four feet, his dinner was left tasting a little better when he made up for the error by holing from a foot further away for his par on the last.
Nearest challenger Romero, who will celebrate his 48th birthday next week, admitted it was tiring at times keeping up with the plethora of young stars on The European Tour. “It is very difficult when all these young players really want to win,” he said. “But I am very relaxed and trying my best and I want another win.
“Sometimes when I miss a shot or miss a green I have a little problem with my concentration but I have been doing yoga for about three years and that has helped. It helps focus my mind so that I can produce a better swing.”
There was certain nothing wrong with the swing of the seven time winner on The European Tour International Schedule as he produced an excellent round of golf peppered with seven birdies including three in the last four holes.
Another player to birdie the final hole was Stephen Leaney on his way to a 67 and a share of third spot on nine under par 204. It was a welcome return to form for the 33 year old Australian, who last played a weekend in the Volvo PGA Championship, and an equally pleasing return of some putting form.
“I haven’t putted well in the last five to six weeks but the greens are so good here that it is as good a place as any to get your rhythm back,” he said. “Not playing well stems from not putting well and it is so nice to get back to holing those five and six footers – that certainly gets your confidence going.”
Alongside Leaney, Justin Rose recovered from an indifferent opening ten holes of his third round to card birdies at the 11th, 13th and 15th on his way to a 68 and 204 to keep alive his hopes of his third European Tour title of the year.
“You are always going to make a couple of bogeys here,” he said. “Sometimes it happens for no particular reason but I holed a bunker shot at the 11th immediately after taking two bogeys and that helped me hang in there.
“Having won before does give you confidence that you can do it again. You always feel you can win but when you have proved to yourself that you can win it does make a difference, and I’ve got a lot of positives to draw on this year.”
Although Rose is in good form, the man of the moment on The European Tour is Michael Campbell, winner last week in Dublin, and whose third round 66 for an eight under par 205 continued to improve his showing at Loch Lomond and gave him every belief he could win for a second consecutive week.
“I was on a high last week and then all of a sudden when you move on you are on a low which is natural for any human being,” he said. “So it was nice to get past those two days shooting 72-67 which was not too bad but today I came out firing. I felt refreshed and recharged. Another win? Why not? That’s what I’m here playing golf for.”
Alongside Campbell, Warren Bennett fired a 68 for 205 but was a little disappointed considering he had reached ten under par before bogeying the 14th, where he three-putted and the 18th where he missed the green.
“It is disappointing to finish with a bogey but there is nothing you can do about it and overall I am pleased with the way I played. The last few holes were a bit scrappy but I scrambled well and I took a lot of positive points from today.”
Five players shared seventh place on seven under par 206, four Englishmen Paul Casey, Roger Chapman, David Howell and Jamie Spence, and South African Tim Clark.