Angel Cabrera and Peter Hedblom are locked at the top of the leaderboard on ten under par 206 going into the final round of the BMW Championship after a testing day of gusting winds at Wentworth Club.
The big hitting Argentinian, runner-up last year and in 2001, produced a stunning back nine of 32 to complete a six under par 66 to hold the 54 hole lead for a second successive year.
Joint third last week in Ireland, Cabrera mastered the swirling wind round the West Course to steadily make up ground on the leaders. Having started the day seven shots off the lead, the 35 year old made his move on the back nine. Level par through ten holes, he followed a birdie on the 11th with an eagle on the 12th, chipping in from 30 feet. He then birdied the par three 14th before finishing with two closing birdies to equal the low round of the day.
“I played the back nine spectacularly,” said Cabrera, winner of two titles on The European Tour International Schedule. “I was hitting the ball pretty solidly and also putting well. To play well in these conditions is always good.”
The field may be bunched behind the leading pair but Cabrera feels his main challenge is going to be the tough West Course layout. “The course is the main competitor, then the players,” he commented.
Hedblom, the surprise pacesetter at the halfway stage, battled back after a testing front nine in which he dropped three shots by birdieing two of the last three holes for a 73 to share pole position with Cabrera.
“I knew it was going to be a tough day because of the wind and the front nine is particularly tough in that wind,” said Hedblom, looking for his first title since winning the 1996 Moroccan Open and become the first Swede to win the title. “I was just trying to be patient and have some fun out there and I’m pleased with how I finished.”
England’s David Howell equalled Cabrera’s 66 with a stunning eagle-eagle finish to lie just two shots adrift of the leading pair on eight under par alongside Ireland’s Paul McGinley, who shot a 72.
Howell is in sparkling form having accumulated almost €450,000 in the last two events which he lost out only in sudden-death play-offs, but the prospect of a third successive play-off holds no fears.
“I haven’t got a problem with play-offs,” said the Ryder Cup player. “The longer I don’t win one, the more my chances increase of winning the next one. A play-off in the PGA would be fantastic. Obviously I would rather win it outright but being two-under after 36 holes, if you offered me a play-off after 72, I would have bitten your hand off.”
Howell has enjoyed five top ten finishes in his eight events on The European Tour this year.
“I have been playing great the last four or five rounds. I drove it nicely and was a lot more in control of the ball. It was a day of patience and Wentworth, it gives you a chance at the end. I stayed patient and to finish eagle-eagle was a massive, massive boost.”
McGinley shot a level par 72 thanks to a birdie on the final hole but it was a battle throughout the afternoon.
“My course management was right, my attitude was good. I just didn’t pull the shots off. It was a tough day and I’m glad it's over. But two off the lead with a round to go – I would have taken that at the start of the week.”
Swedes Peter Hanson and Marten Olander, Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee and New Zealand’s Michael Campbell are a further two shots adrift on six under par.