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Saturday, 04 June 2011

Alex Noren held firm at the top of the leaderboard as Graeme McDowell's defence of the Saab Wales Open title hit trouble at The Celtic Manor Resort.

With the weather turning from hot and sunny to wet and windy the Northern Irishman resumed one behind Swede Alex Noren, but kicked off with a double bogey six.

McDowell, who will also be the title-holder at the US Open Championship the week after next, found sand off the tee and went from one bunker to another before finally making the fairway with his third shot.

Noren's par doubled his lead to two and with McDowell dropping back to joint third it was Welshman Jamie Donaldson who was now his closest challenger on six under par.

Fifty year old Barry Lane, meanwhile, bogeyed the first two holes and fell five back in his bid to become The European Tour's oldest ever winner.

Phillip Price, another of the home contingent, was making a move from deep in the pack, however.

The former Ryder Cup hero had suffered a two shot penalty in his second round for driving from in front of the markers at the 15th hole - television commentator Howard Clark spotted it - but from level par overnight he improved to three under with three to play and was up into a tie for seventh.

Things continued to go badly for McDowell on the long second, a drive into the rough time leading to a bogey six that dropped him four behind.

Noren had only to par again to extend his lead to three. That was because Donaldson bogeyed the short third.

McDowell gave himself a five foot birdie chance on the third, but missed that and then dropped yet another shot after going left again into the rough and from there into a greenside bunker.

Price parred the last three holes for a 68 and was only a stroke off second place and four behind Noren, who three-putted the fourth for his first error.

World Number Five McDowell's swing was giving him real problems and a further hook into the rough at the fifth led to another double bogey.

His second shot flew the green into a ditch and forced him to take a penalty drop. He was now six over par for the first five and at one under had slumped from second overnight to 17th, six shots behind Noren.

Although the weather had improved, the scoring did not. Donaldson bogeyed the fifth and double-bogeyed the next to go from second after two holes to joint 11th.

Into second place instead came Dane Anders Hansen, who had five birdies in nine holes from the fourth to be only two off the lead.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1NOREN, AlexanderSWE18-9
T2BOURDY, GrégoryFRA18-7
T2HANSEN, AndersDEN18-7
T4GONZALEZ, RicardoARG18-6
T4LARRAZÁBAL, PabloESP18-6
T4EDFORS, JohanSWE18-6
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