Friday, 19 March 2010

In Friday’s second round David Lynn had to battle a troublesome groin injury which he did to great effect to lead the Volvo China Open at the halfway stage. In Saturday’s third round it was Mother Nature which provided the main obstacle to his progress in the form of gale force winds, often gusting to 35mph. But again the Englishman proved equal to the task to maintain pole position going into the final round.

The 32 year old – winner of The KLM Open on The European Tour International Schedule in 2004 – battled the blustery gusts at the Honghua International Golf Club in Beijing to post a level par 72 for a nine under par total of 207 to take a one shot lead over the leading two Asian players in the co-sanctioned event with the Asian Tour, Thailand’s Prayad Marksaeng and Jeev Milkha Singh of India.

Lynn’s lowest moment of a difficult day came at the demanding 596 yard 11th where a trip into the water cost him a double bogey seven and indeed he dropped three other shots elsewhere. But it was a measure of his courage and determination which saw him card five birdies elsewhere, including three in a row from the 12th – ‘bouncebackability’ of the truly highest order.

“The wind was starting to pick up as we were on the first tee and it started to blow and then it dropped and then it decided to blow full stop,” he said. “Every hole out there was tough and you were battling the sand in the air getting in your eyes and you could feel it in your throat as well so that was another thing to contend with.

“It wasn’t too pleasant but it was the same for everybody going out later in the day and I could have shot anything really. So I just had to hang on and try and commit to every shot and I am very pleased with level par.

“I have led several tournaments now going into the last round, I think I have been tied for the lead as well, so I have had experience of this situation before. I’m just going to go out there and play like I did today. I felt like I controlled the ball pretty well today and hopefully I can get the same sort of feelings when I go out there and we will take it from there.”

Joint-second placed Singh, without a victory since 1999, began to show some of the form which made him the leading Indian player of his generation, with a fine third round 67 for an eight under par total of 208.

The former European Tour Member has been working hard on both the physical and mental aspects of his game and was also given a boost with the presentation of a new and colourful golf bag from his sponsor GMA.

“I just love my new bag,” he said. “My new sponsor is a perfectionist and he actually made it. It's got Indian colours, an Indian flag and it's also got a lion’s head on it. I just love it. Maybe he thinks I'm a lion and I am the king of the jungle! Normally you put a tiger for an Indian person, but I'm taking the lion as a compliment.”

Alongside Singh, Marksaeng, who partnered Lynn, matched the Englishman’s seven at the 11th and added in a double bogey six at the last as well. But he too battled valiantly and six birdies helped him to his own level par 72 and 208.

One of the players who suffered some of the worst of the windy conditions was Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, who shared fourth place on seven under par 209 with the defending champion Paul Casey, who kept himself very much in contention with a third round 70.

Fernandez-Castano, the 2005 Sir Henry Cotton of the Year winner, was particularly shaken up when a severe gust blew down a, thankfully, unmanned television tower behind the 11th green.

“It was like a mini tornado which blew the TV tower down and it was really a bad moment,” said the Spaniard, who posted a third round 68. “I had a two footer for birdie and I couldn’t putt it because my heart was beating so fast.

“I saw my partner’s golf bag lying on the ground and then it was standing up on its own and started moving in the wind! We didn’t really know what to do and for a time I was lying on the ground hoping that it wasn’t coming this way. We were lucky that it went though the lake but you could see all the things flying in the air so it was a difficult moment.”

The winner of The KLM Open in 2005 recovered sufficiently to knock in the two footer and showed impressive mental strength to hold his game together over the closing stretch, birdieing the 13th, 14th and 16th too before a poor pitch cost him a shot at the 17th.

“I played some solid golf today,” he said. “I made a couple of mistakes, but apart from those it was almost a perfect round for me. I missed a two footer on the sixth and hit a bad pitch on the 17th but it was tough conditions so I am glad that I am back in contention for Sunday.”

Casey produced the most controlled round of the day, his only departures from par being birdies at the second, 12th and 14th and a solitary bogey at the 15th where he drove into a fairway bunker. He still remains most people’s pick to pocket the €247,748 (£172,344) first prize come Sunday night.

“I struck the ball very nicely, drove it very nicely and just getting the ball in play gave me more options when the wind did pick up,” he said. “I also holed a couple of good putts and a couple of good par saves so I am very happy with that.”

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1SINGH, Jeev MilkhaIND18-10
2FDEZ-CASTAÑO, GonzaloESP18-9
3LYNN, DavidENG18-8
T4CASEY, PaulENG18-7
T4LYLE, JarrodAUS18-7
T4WAKEFIELD, SimonENG18-7
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