Youth and experience are set to go head to head in what is shaping up to be a thrilling and intriguing final round at the dual ranking Aa St Omer Open, with the last two matches pitting two vastly experienced professionals against two of Europe’s emerging young talents at the Aa St Omer Open.
Joint leaders 24 year old Ross Fisher of England and 37 year old Carl Suneson of Spain, who carded respective second round scores of 68 and 65 to take a share of first place on five under par 208, will play together in the last match of the day, while 22 year old Raphaël de Sousa of Switzerland will play alongside English 32 year old Ian Pyman in the final round’s penultimate match after both players posted four under par aggregates of four under 209.
Another 22 year old – second round leader James Heath of England – is on four under par after a third round 73 and will play alongside 38 year old Gary Orr of Scotland, who has two European Tour titles to his name.
Like Orr, Pyman and Suneson have both played at the very highest level of European golf and those three vastly experienced professionals, who are all looking to return full time to the top echelon of the game, will find themselves faced with three potential European Tour stars of the future during the final round at the Aa St Omer Golf Club.
De Sousa, Fisher and Heath are all gifted young players with the calibre to go all the way, the Swiss, who posted a third round 66 in St Omer, having won the English Boys Strokeplay Championship in 2001 before taking the Swiss PGA Championship title last year.
The two young Englishmen, meanwhile, have come through the ranks of Surrey County golf side by side, Heath having won the prestigious Lytham Trophy last year before turning professional at the end of 2004.
Fisher was delighted with his third round 68 that saw him move to six under par after 11 holes before he faltered with a three hole run of bogey-bogey-double-bogey from the 11th to 13th. He refused to falter though, and strung together three birdies in a row immediately after his double bogey to return to the top of the leaderboard.
“It felt really, really good out there – I played ever so well today,” said Fisher. “I got off to a solid start and didn’t really hit a bad shot on the front nine. It was playing totally different to the last two days and I found myself hitting shots that I wasn’t sure how to hit but I managed to negotiated those and get to four under going out which put me right up there.
“But you are always going to have highs and lows in the round and I had a couple of lows when I spun off the green on the 12th and then got a flier from the rough on the 13th and then had to take a penalty drop but I then I fought back with three birdies and made two good up and downs on the last two holes so I am really pleased with that.
“It was satisfying to bounce back from the dropped shots. To do all the hard work to get to six under and start to think that I am right up there and then to go bogey-bogey-double-bogey kind of sets you back a bit but there are birdies out there and I am capable of birdieing every single hole – that’s the way you have got to think.”
Suneson carded the lowest round of the tournament during round three – a six under 65 to move from one over into a share of the five under lead. Six birdies and no dropped shots were a clear sign that the Spaniard will be a hard man to beat if he can continue that form into the final round.
“I putted well and was very positive,” he said. “That’s my lowest round of the year so far and I am playing better. Every week I seem to be getting up there but haven’t been able to close the door but as long as I keep knocking I think I might have a good chance of doing it. We’ll see what happens.
“You have to be positive and realistic. If I lower my expectations then I will probably play better. If you get the expectations too high then you start to get ahead of yourself and I have been out here long enough to know that you have got be positive inside but not too much because you don’t want to get ahead of yourself. You have to respect this game. It’s 72 holes and I had a great round today that has put me in a position to do what I want to do but we will see. It’s another day tomorrow and I have to be patient and stay in the present.”
With only five strokes between the top 18 players in St Omer, the final round is sure to be fraught with nervous excitement, as every man in contention chases the top prize of €66,660 and that invaluable one year exemption to The 2006 European Tour.