Saturday, 27 November 2004
Welshman Stephen Dodd recovery from a potentially damaging triple bogey seven in the third round of the Volvo China Open to stay on course to record his first European Tour victory at Shanghai Silport Golf Club in China.

Dodd, three strokes ahead at halfway, ran up that unpalatable score at the 408 yard seventh after his eight iron ‘airmailed’ the green, hit a bank and went into water.

However he recovered admirably and that glitch was the only one on his otherwise flawless card of 70 containing five birdies.

Despite that seven, the 38 year old former Amateur champion maintained his three stroke lead at the end of a day in which he and fellow countryman, Bradley Dredge, were first and fourth with a pair of Danes, Thomas Björn and Søren Hansen, were the ‘meat in the sandwich’ in second and third places respectively.

At one point during the round, with Hansen having three successive birdies from the sixth, Dodd went from two shots in front to one behind. However Hansen promptly bogeyed the next two holes while the Cardiff player covered the remaining 11 after his triple-bogey in three under.

By getting up and down from sand on the par five last Dodd was round in a two under 70 and with 18 holes to play stands on 208, eight under par, and still three clear of the dangerous Danish duo.

It is 15 year since Dodd made his European Tour debut and the Welshman is still seeking his maiden victory, following ten visits to the Qualifying School. In all that time, he never lost his vision of a first Tour success.

He has never taken any lead into the final day and said: "We will see what happens." The Amateur champion from 1989 - and a member that same year of the first Walker Cup side to win on American soil - Dodd was asked if he had expected more of himself sooner.

"I think other people did," he replied. "It just takes time to adjust and thankfully I feel it's improving all the time."

Björn, who turned down the chance to win a million dollars in South Korea this week to play in the first European Tour Order of Merit event of 2005, moved up from eighth to joint second with a 68. He grabbed a hat-trick of birdies from the 14th, but then three-putted the final hole for par.

Björn said: "I actually committed to Korea but there are no world ranking points there and this is part of The European Tour."

For the first time, the China Open is co-sanctioned by the European and Asian Tours and is the first event on the 2005 European Tour Order of Merit campaign.Björn has also relinquished his US PGA Tour membership to focus more on his home circuit.

"I feel I've spent too much time away," he said. "I've tried America and it didn't work for me. I found it took so much out of me, especially when I was playing poorly, and when I came back to Europe I wasn't enjoying that either."

Hansen, playing with a hairline fracture of the little finger on his left hand suffered playing basketball nine days ago, matched Dodd's 70.

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