Friday, 19 March 2010
2009 Johnnie Walker Classic: Day 2  (Getty Images)
2009 Johnnie Walker Classic: Day 2 (Getty Images)

Ross McGowan put himself into a strong position to claim his first win on The European Tour after shooting a seven under par 65 to join English compatriot John Bickerton in a tie for top spot after the third round of the Johnnie Walker Classic.

The 26 year old, whose best previous result on The European Tour was fifth at the Alfred Dunhill Championship in late 2007, fired seven birdies to improve to 14 under at The Vines Resort & Country Club.

McGowan, the 2006 English Amateur champion, began the day on seven under, three shots behind overnight co-leaders Damien McGrane of Ireland and Anthony Kang of the United States, and was out in 34 after birdies on the sixth and ninth.

He picked up five more on the back nine including back to back birdies on the last two holes to finish his day with a share of the lead.

Bickerton was eight under after two rounds and parred his first six holes today before rolling in a 12 foot putt for his first birdie of the day on the seventh.

It helped to ignite the 39 year old who birdied six of the last 12 holes for a six under 66 that put him in contention for his first European Tour win since 2007.

"So far, so good. Obviously the last few weeks have been a bit of a struggle after taking time off in the winter and then to come back last week was the first sign of actually playing decent," said The European Tour veteran.

"The difference this week is that the putts are going in and sometimes that's what makes the difference."

With 30 players within six strokes of the lead, Bickerton knows there is still much to play for in the final round.

"The Tour is so strong these days that anybody is capable of winning.

"These guys wouldn't be here unless they were capable of winning. It's a strong, strong Tour nowadays - it's not like it used to be.

"And they are all young as well, which really peeves me off," he added, laughing.

McGowan put himself into a strong position to claim his first win on The European Tour after firing seven birdies in a bogey-free round.

“I just hit the ball nicely really and hit a lot of fairways. Around here if you can do that, the second shots and third shots aren't too tough," McGowan said.

"I just played solid and hit the ball fairly close to about ten foot most of the day and made a few putts.

"It's very balanced and you can make a lot of birdies out there, and several guys have proven it."

The English pair will enter the final round of the £1.25million event with a two stroke advantage over a group of four players on 12 under that includes Raphaël Jacquelin of France (66), Chile's Felipe Aguilar (68), Australian Terry Pilkadaris (68) and New Zealand amateur Danny Lee (69).

Spain's Ignacio Garrido bogeyed his final hole to card a 70 which dropped him into a tie for seventh on 11 under with Korea's Bae Sang-moon (65), Australian Michael Sim (67), Dutchman Robert-Jan Derksen (69) and Hiroyuki Fujita of Japan (70).

Ireland's Peter Lawrie had a share of the lead midway through the round but a double bogey on the 16th saw him finish with a 69 as he joined Irish compatriot McGrane (72), Ulsterman Gareth Maybin (68) and three others on ten under.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1LEE, DannyNZL18-17
T2AGUILAR, FelipeCHI18-16
T2McGOWAN, RossENG18-16
T2FUJITA, HiroyukiJPN18-16
T5JACQUELIN, RaphaëlFRA18-15
T5BICKERTON, JohnENG18-15
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