Friday, 19 March 2010
Alfred Dunhill Links Championship - Round Three  (Getty Images)
Alfred Dunhill Links Championship - Round Three (Getty Images)

Luke Donald gave himself the chance to end three and a half years without a win by matching the lowest round of his European Tour career in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship today.

Donald followed a 65 at St Andrews with an eight under par 64 at Kingsbarns and heads back to The Home Of Golf with a one-stroke lead over fellow Englishman Simon Dyson and Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy.

One shot further back are Michael Hoey, who went round St Andrews two under, fellow Northern Irishman Darren Clarke, Spain’s Rafael Cabrera-Bello and Scotland’s Richie Ramsay - who shot five under, seven under and two under respectively at Kingsbarns.

The tournament, which has a first prize of more than £485,000, goes into an extra day because no play was possible yesterday because of gale-force winds.

Donald enjoyed a flying start, picking up three birdies in the first four holes. Four more in six followed, beginning at the eighth.

Although he dropped a shot at the 15th, Donald birdied the next two and parred the last to match his outward nine 32.

Donald, whose nine birdies constituted the round of the day at Kingsbarns, said: “I gave myself a lot of chances from ten, 15 feet and just really rolled the ball nicely today.

“I made pretty much everything I looked at. Just one spoilt by a bad swing on 15, hit it in the water but still made a pretty good four there.

“I knew that the wind was pretty benign for here, and there's definitely some scoring opportunities out on this course, so I thought if I could make five or six birdies that, would be good, but obviously went a few better.”

Looking ahead to tomorrow’s final round, he added: “There are some great names and pretty packed leaderboard, too. 

“I'm obviously going to have to not play safe at all. If the weather is anything like that, I'm going to have to go out there and shoot a lot of birdies and hope it's good enough.

“This is a great tournament for The European Tour, and around the world, and it's got a great field. It's been a while since I've won, so hopefully I can get back in that winning circle.”

McIlroy picked up an eagle on the par five third but three bogeys in the next five holes meant he slipped back before picking up a birdie on the par five ninth.

Having gone out in 36 though, the 20 year old went round the back nine in 33 thanks to birdies at the par four 11th and 14th, plus the par five 12th.

“I'll have to play very well to win,” he said. “It's a very congested leaderboard and I'm sure someone will come out and shoot a 66 out of that pack. I'll have to play very well and just try and keep my nose in front.”

McIlroy, playing with his father Gerry who celebrates his 50th birthday tomorrow, added: “It will be great tomorrow and hopefully I can play well again and he can knock a few putts in and we might challenge in the team event, as well.”

Dyson began the day on six under but picked up a birdie at the par five third and eagled the par four sixth before gaining another shot on the 12th.

He dropped a shot at the 15th but recovered by birdying the 16th and last.

Asked what it would mean to win tomorrow, Dyson revealed: “It would be very special. This is one of, if not, the biggest tournament on our calendar. So it will be an interesting day.”

Meanwhile, amateur Robert Hersov hit a hole in one on the 157 yard eighth hole - his 17th hole of the day - at Carnoustie.

The South African said: "I took out a four iron and by then we knew we weren't making the cut so I was in relaxed mode and I hit the ball and it was just so crisp.

“It rolled up the green and everyone started to say it was going in and it did!”

Leaders in the amateur team contest were Denmark's Soren Hansen and Irish stud farm owner Kieran McManus, son of JP McManus, whose 31 under par total of 185 led Australian Scott Strange and former Australian cricket captain Steve Waugh by a shot.

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