The 50th Volvo PGA Championship, the 1000th event on The European Tour International Schedule, is heading for a thrilling finale with Argentina’s Angel Cabrera holding a one stroke lead over a chasing pack filled with some of the great names of European golf.
Justin Rose lies just one stroke off the pace alongside Volvo PGA debutant Scott Drummond, Darren Fichardt and Joakim Haeggman with Darren Clarke a further stroke back and Thomas Björn, Ernie Els and Nick Faldo only three shots adrift.
But while the big guns may be poised to strike, it is the big hitting Cabrera who will be the man to catch. A four under par 68, built around a run of birdie, birdie, eagle immediately after the turn, took the 34 year old to 12 under par 204.
Cabrera, who equalled the course record of 63 on his way to finishing second to Andrew Oldcorn on 2001, will be bidding to become only the second Argentine winner of The European Tour’s flagship event, following in the footsteps of Vicente Fernandez who won in 1979 at St Andrews.
“I’ve got a very good chance tomorrow,” said Cabrera, a winner of two previous European Tour titles. “I feel very comfortable on this golf course, always have. To win the Volvo PGA would mean a lot to me. It’s such a big event and for us, the most important event after the Open Championship. To win would be a huge step forward in my career.”
Halfway leader Rose had a mixed day with four birdies cancelled out by four bogeys on his way to a level par 72 to trail Cabrera by one.
“I guess it’s encouraging to be only one stroke off the lead,” said the 23 year old. “It was a frustrating day in a lot of ways for me out there. I actually hit the ball better today than I did the first two days and just weird how this game works. Obviously I was a few shots worse than the first two days and it just comes down to the putter. I didn’t take my chances today, simple as that.
“There are some big names lurking right there and whoever wins is going to have to go out and shoot a pretty low score.”
Scotland’s Drummond celebrated his 30th birthday in style, picking up six birdies on his way to a four under par 68 to lie on 11 under par in his first appearance at Wentworth Club.
“This is possibly the biggest week of the year for me,” said Drummond, a graduate from last year’s Challenge Tour who only got into the field at the last minute after being fourth reserve at the close of entries. “I’m very fortunate to be here but making the most of it.”
Playing partner Fichardt of South Africa matched Drummond’s 68 to also lie just one off the pace as he chases his third European Tour title after victories in the 2001 Sao Paolo Open and 2003 Qatar Masters while Swede Haegmann, the current Qatar Masters Champion, shot a two under par 70 to join them on 11 under par.
Clarke, twice a runner-up in the Volvo PGA Championship, looked set to join them on that mark until pulling his drive on the last against the out of bounds fence, forcing the Ulsterman to take a penalty drop. That cost him a shot as he posted a one under par 71 to fall two shots adrift of Cabrera.
World Number Three Els put himself right back into the mix, salvaging a round that started with three bogeys in the first five holes with an eagle, birdie finish for a level par 72 and 54 hole total of 207, nine under par.
“The last two holes have saved my round over the last two days and especially today because I was nowhere,” he said. “I am going to have to try and find something in time for tomorrow.”
Denmark’s Björn also made a shaky start with two dropped shots in the first three holes but an eagle on the par five fourth turned his fortunes around. Another eagle followed on the 11th when he holed his sand wedge second shot and two more birdies on the back nine completed a round of three under par 69.
The third player in the group is Faldo, who will play his 100th round in the Volvo PGA Championship tomorrow. The Englishman’s four under par 68 was his 66th sub par round in the event he has won four times. Although only one of those victories was at Wentworth Club, he has also recorded three second place finishes and eight top tens.
“I obviously enjoy myself out there,” said the six time Major Champion. “Horses for courses, this place. I have played more rounds here than anywhere else so I guess I like it. I enjoy the atmosphere, the golf course, the whole event. That’s what I need in this stage of my career to keep me playing well. I need a win. That would be really good for me. That’s what I am trying to achieve so we’ll see what we can do.”