Bradley Dredge is showing a head for heights as three years after winning his first European Tour title in the mountains of Madeira, the Welshman leads the field in the Swiss Alps as he chases a second victory. A six under par 65 at Crans-sur-Sierre took Dredge two clear of playing partner Marcel Siem of Germany.
England’s Oliver Wilson lies third on nine under par after a round of 67 with the defending champion and World Number Eight, Sergio Garcia, a further shot back.
Dredge, who partnered Stephen Dodd to victory in the World Golf Championships – Algarve World Cup in Portugal last November, has managed to find his form after ending a run of four missed cuts last week. He hit the front with a stunning eagle on the 15th, holing a curling eight footer after a magnificent six iron approach.
“It’s very pleasing when you do hit a good iron shot on the par five to capitalise and make eagle,” he said.
Dredge got off to a great start with birdies on each of the first three holes but his run came to a crashing halt when he drove out of bounds on the fourth. But the 33 year old kept his patience and was rewarded with a four under par back nine to finish at 13 under par 200.
“I have got myself in position a lot over the last couple of years and haven’t managed to win yet,” he said. “I just keep trying to get up there in positions and you keep learning each time. I try different things each time and hopefully I will find something that works for me and it clicks and I will carry on and win a few events.”
Playing partner Siem also started well with four birdies and no dropped shots on the front nine to edge ahead of the field but was unable to keep pace with Dredge coming in as he closed with a four under par 67. He too has turned his season around after a torrid start to the year and was in danger of losing his card until finishing fourth in the EnterCard Scandinavian Masters last month.
“The start of the season was really bad,” said the German. “There was a lot of pressure on me as this was the first time I have had to fight for my card. In Malmo, I finished fourth and the pressure was gone. Now I am playing better and better. It is a good feeling. You start thinking, do you belong on this Tour but I told myself I was a winner. I will try hard to win tomorrow and get my exemption. I know how to win and stay patient but Bradley is playing well and it is going to be tough.”
Garcia and Wilson renewed an old rivalry from their amateur days where they had one victory apiece after Garcia got the better of Wilson in the British Boys Championship but the Englishman got his revenge a year later in the European Boys. This time around Wilson edged the Ryder Cup player by a shot with a 67 to 68.
“I think he is beating me overall as he is Number Five in the world,” admitted Wilson. “He is doing a little better. You learn a lot out there watching him. He is so relaxed, nothing really bothers him. It was good fun. First time I have enjoyed a round like that in a long time.”
Garcia has a lot of ground to make up if he is successfully defend his title but with the greens getting firmer and the course tougher every day feels four under may be enough to clinch the title.
“If I get it going a little bit, I am sure there is a chance,” he said. “The par fives and some of the par fours, you can really get yourself down there and put yourself under par but then you have some tricky ones and some tough holes coming in. It’s a good test. It is right on the limit of almost being too firm and the margin of error is so small.”