A dramatic eagle three on the final hole at Hilversumche Golf Club kept Tobias Dier in command of The TNT Open and with it, his hopes of continuing an impressive winning German tradition in the event.
Bernhard Langer has won the tournament on three occasions and Sven Strüver triumphed at Hilversumsche in 1997. Dier’s third round 67 gave him a 16 under par total of 194 and the lead by three shots from Padraig Harrington and Mark Roe with Pierre Fulke and Peter Lonard a further shot adrift going into the final round.
The 25 year old from Nurnberg started the day three shots clear of the field, a legacy of his course record opening 60, but for a while it looked like he would not end that way as he made his first bogey of the week at the fourth and followed it with further dropped shots at the tenth and 16th.
But birdies at the sixth, eighth, 12th and 13th helped erase the damage and he gave himself the perfect fillip in his attempt to win his second title on The European Tour International Schedule with a superb drive at the 18th, a five iron second to the heart of the green and a sweetly struck 20 foot putt for eagle.
“I’m pleased with the way I’m playing at the moment,” he said. “To finish eagle was good but I still felt like I left a few shots out there today which would have given me the opportunity to go even further clear. But I’m happy with 67, I’m playing, I’m not complaining.”
Another man apparently happy on the surface was Padraig Harrington, whose flawless 64, his best round of the week, saw him move only three shots behind Dier on 13 under par 197.
However the Irishman admitted he felt he still had a bit of work to do. He said: “I am happy with 64 but I didn’t play great I’ve got to say. My expectations are high and I’m being very hard on myself I have to be honest, but that’s the problem.
“I know the score is good and I came good at the end but I am being a little too critical I suppose. If I hit it down the centre of the fairway and don’t hit it out of the centre of the club, then I’m not happy with myself, which is silly I know because at the end of the day it is what you score, not how you do it.
“I’ve never been a great person playing with confidence. Obviously I’m playing well at the moment so I do have confidence and this is what happens. When I have confidence I have expectations and when I have expectations, I tend to force the issue a little bit. But I am just trying to take it a little bit easier on myself and not maybe try too hard.”
Certainly if anything is going to make the 30 year old Dubliner more positive about his game, it is the way he played the last seven holes over the testing Hilversumche course, birdies at the 12th, 14th, 16th and 18th seeing him home in 31.
Another man delighted with his finish was England’s Mark Roe, who joined Harrington on 13 under par 197 after his third round 66, a score rescued with a birdie on the 16th and an eagle three at the 18th where his seven iron approach landed a mere three feet from the pin.
“I am very proud of myself actually,” said Roe, whose last win came in the Peugeot Open de France in 1994. “I stuck in there, waited for the good shots to come and I think that 66 is always a good score round here.
“I’m very pleased with my swing and I’m going to go and work some more now and keep it ticking over. But you know, coming down the 18th, that is where the pressure is going to be and I’ve nutted a drive and seven iron to three feet, it’s great, I’m delighted.”
In joint fourth place on 12 under par 198, Australian Peter Lonard posted a 68 while Sweden’s Pierre Fulke carried on the good form which saw him card a 65 in the final round of the Open Championship at Muirfield to post his second consecutive 65 of this week.
The closeness of the chasing pack was illustrated when Raymond Russell and Jamie Spence finished together in joint sixth place on 11 under par 199, while Kenneth Ferrie and Jarrod Moseley finished together in joint eighth position on ten under par 200.