Saturday, 06 September 2003
Eduardo Romero of Argentina seeks to make history by becoming the oldest winner of a tournament on The European Tour International Schedule at the age of 49 years and 52 days in the Omega European Masters at Crans-sur-Sierre. Romero holds a two stroke lead over South African Ernie Els going into the final round.

Ireland’s Des Smyth was 48 years and 34 days when he won the 2001 Madeira Island Open, but Romero would eclipse that mark should he prevail over Els, third place Robert Karlsson of Sweden and a host of other challengers lurking just behind the principals.

Romero fired a third round of 67, four under par, for a 13 under par total of 200, two in front of Els who experienced a rollercoaster ride over the inward nine, completing his final eight holes without a single par. The World Number Two birdied the closing two holes for a round of 68 for 202 with Karlsson shooting a 71 for 203.

The powerful Argentine may be closing in on that milestone birthday which invariably denotes the launch of a lucrative few years’ earning potential, but he dismisses the idea that he feels his age.

“I don’t feel old” he said in mock indignation. “In my mind I am not 49 years old. I am very strong and hitting the ball ten or 15 yards further than I did before. This year in particular I feel very strong.”

Romero attributes his flexibility and strength to regular sessions of yoga. He explained: “I have been doing yoga for four years now and it’s important to me. It has helped with my concentration. It is mental, not physical exercise.”

Els seemed set to move into the lead when he birdied five holes on the front nine to turn in 31, at which point he was sharing the lead with Romero. However he bogeyed four holes in a row from the 11th, birdied the 15th, bogeyed the 16th then closed with two more birdies.

A puzzled looking Els emerged from signing his card to muse: “What can I say? For a while I thought I was going to shoot really low then a bit later I thought I wasn’t going to break par! The pin positions were really tough and made us all think.

“I was struggling for a while but I noticed the spots where the pins will be tomorrow and they seem more accessible, which means there are still a lot of players who can come through. Robert and Eduardo have both won here already so maybe I will watch them to see what I have to do!”

Defending champion Karlsson, the first and second round leader, was also prominent under running up a double bogey at the tenth and a bogey at the 12th. However he regrouped to finish just three behind Romero and said: “As I said yesterday, I don’t mind losing my lead today as long as I reclaim it tomorrow.

“It will be great to play in the final threeball with Eduardo and Ernie. Eduardo and I may have won this title before but I think Ernie has managed a couple of wins elsewhere!”

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