Friday, 19 March 2010

Graeme McDowell scored a superb 66 to top The Barclays Scottish Open leaderboard on ten under par alongside Simon Khan going into the final round at Loch Lomond Golf Club.

The Northern Irishman, who has not been over par at any point in his 67-70-66 surge towards a fourth career win on The European Tour, took birdies on both the fourth and fifth holes before picking up another two strokes at the 11th and 12th.

A bogey six followed on the 13th, but an eagle two at the par four 14th and a birdie on the last nullified the effect of a dropped shot at the 17th.

Khan looked equally imperious in joining McDowell at ten under for the tournament, the Englishman collecting strokes at the first and fourth before a bogey six at the sixth temporarily halted his charge.

He recovered to pick up shots at the ninth, 13th and 14th to take the lead, but a dropped shot at the 17th ensured a clubhouse score of 203 and a tie going into the final day.

For McDowell the win would guarantee him a place in Nick Faldo’s side at The Ryder Cup.

"It's certainly in there in the back of my mind, maybe somewhere up near the front actually," he said.

"Obviously if I was to win tomorrow I realise what that would mean but it's not going to help me with the shots I'm going to play."

McDowell, who "punished himself" by working as an on-course commentator during the last edition of The Ryder Cup at The K Club, added: "I'm trying not to live in the future but it's tough not to.

"I work a lot with my psychologist, Dr Karl Morris, on focusing on the present and it's very very important that I focus on this week, it's all I can control. There's a lot of golf to be played and a lot of good players who want to be on that team."

One place in The Open Championship next week is still up for grabs for the leading non-exempt player - providing they finish in the top five - and Khan admits he is desperate to secure his place at Royal Birkdale.

"It's definitely been on my mind, it's going to be a great Open next week," said the 36 year old.

"I played at Hoylake in 2006 and the fans were great, I really enjoyed their humour! My wife is also from Liverpool and I have grandparents in Lytham St Annes so a lot of connections with the area."

Khan, who is chasing a second title on The European Tour, added: "I'm going to try and play without fear again and enjoy myself, something I've not been doing the last year or so.

"When I've been in good positions I've tried too hard, you can push it away when you want it too much."

Australia’s Richard Green, Spain’s Miguel Angel Jiménez, Jeev Milkha Singh of India, and England’s Ross Fisher are in a four-way tie for third on eight under par, while six players, including World Number Three Adam Scott of Australia, are tied for seventh a shot further back.

Scott, who was tied for 98th after Thursday’s opening round and down in 28th after a 66 in the second, continued his fightback on Saturday with a round of 68, but a double bogey at the 17th irritated him.

He said: “Coming to the 18th, I knew I made the mistake, I just needed to focus. You have to leave those things behind you, which, you know, you've got to be a bit focused and obviously I wasn't on 17. But got to leave it there, and 18 is a tough hole, a lot of trouble if you are not focused.

"I feel like I do have a low one in me for sure. And you know, I might need it tomorrow."

Scott is joined at seven under par by England’s Ian Poulter, who shot four birdies for the cost of just one bogey.

Poulter said: “It was a tricky day, the wind was swirling and a little bit stronger than the last couple of days. The pins were also tucked away so to shoot three under was pretty good and I'm back in contention, which is nice.

"I've played this course well the last few years and if I can keep doing what I am doing and hole a few more putts I'm going to keep making my way up."

Rory McIlroy’s bid for the top five finish that could seal qualification for The Open Championship looked healthy after he shot a 68 to go six under par, a stroke ahead of Ernie Els and two in front of Phil Mickelson, who went around in a level par 71.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1MCDOWELL, GraemeNIR18-13
2KINGSTON, JamesRSA18-11
T3JIMÉNEZ, Miguel AngelESP18-10
T3GREEN, RichardAUS18-10
5KHAN, SimonENG18-9
T6DINWIDDIE, RobertENG18-8
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