Sergio Garcia borrowed a line from the song ‘Anything you can do, I can do better’ when he upstaged his close friend, Luke Donald, by holing his second shot for an eagle two at the final hole at Crans Sur-Sierre to carry a one shot lead into the fourth round of the Omega European Masters.
The irrepressible Spaniard, who had been “disgusted” by the way he had played during a third round 71, arrived at the closing hole one stroke behind playing partner Garry Houston of Wales, unaware that an hour earlier Donald had holed his second at the 17th, also for an eagle two.
Donald, who completed his last four holes in five under par for a round of 66 and nine under par total of 204, was still relaxing in the clubhouse as Garcia played his last two holes in level par – but through a more unconventional method.
Garcia three putted the 17th for a double bogey six, but buried his 111 yard lob wedge from the middle of the fairway for that eagle. Houston, the 34 year old Welshman played in the final grouping for the first time, could only look on bemused as his one shot lead became a one shot deficit.
Houston, ranked 433rd in the world – a whopping 427 places behind Garcia 419 places behind Donald – was nevertheless thrilled by his own 69 for a total of 203. Houston, who now joins Garcia and Donald in the last group on Sunday, smiled wanly and said: “It was quite a dramatic finish. Bizarre really. I suppose in a sense Sergio finished with two pars.!”
He added: “I am quite proud of the way I played today. Compared to what I’ve been used to, it was a circus. That’s what you practise for. It was nice to control my emotions and play pretty well. I enjoyed it. Some of the things happened out there were pure theatre and it was nice to be part of it and add my little bits.
“I tried to keep my emotions in check and hope to do so again tomorrow. Luke Donald as well as Sergio tomorrow...here they come, thick and fast!”
Garcia was disgruntled, to say the least, with his uncharacteristically erratic play. Two double bogeys and two bogeys don’t usually fit into the Spaniard’s repertoire around Crans-Sur-Sierre.
“I felt I was playing like an eight year old again” joked Garcia, who was surprised to hear for the first time of Donald’s dynamics – birdie, birdie, eagle, birdie to finish. The Englishman holed a lob wedge from 85 yards and Garcia, in whose home Donald is staying this week, said: “That’s nice, and the good thing about those two hole-outs is that we play together again as we did last year. There is no way I can play as badly again.”
Donald, who trailed Garcia at halfway 12 months ago, went on to claim the title and his 66 placed him nicely for a repeat performance – something which he insisted tongue in cheek will prevent him receiving another invite from Garcia in 2006!
“I didn’t expect to finish five under for the last four holes. That was nice and it seems I am right back in it. I saw Sergio wasn’t pulling away and when I was three under par I was eight shots back. Last night when we were out to dinner I gave him a nudge to say: ‘keep watching the leader board…I will try to sneak up there!”
Donald goes into the final day on nine under par, the same mark as Denmark’s Anders Hansen, who made a quietly effective forward move of his own with a round of 67.