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Sunday, 14 August 2011
Anders Hansen  (Getty Images)
Anders Hansen (Getty Images)

Anders Hansen is the best placed European going into the final round of the US PGA Championship but there was frustration for Lee Westwood and Luke Donald.

While Dane Hansen carded a level par 70 to remain three under – just four off the pace – the English pair saw their hopes of a first Major title left hanging by a thread.

“I'm pleased,” said Hansen. “I set myself out to try to play a good, solid round and I did that. I didn't quite make the putts I was hoping I was going to make - I rolled one in but that was nice. I stayed in touch for tomorrow.

“I think I'm going to try and stay positive and try to play solid, and then come the back nine, probably see the position and make a decision from there.

“If I can play solid again tomorrow like I did today, maybe hit it closer - the ball is travelling so far here. You couldn't believe how far the ball is travelling, but then you can make some putts, and we are going to have a chance.”

Westwood even joked about changing religions because he has tried everything else to hole more putts.

Donald, meanwhile, talked of possibly going off to "punish" himself in the gym after a closing double bogey six sent him tumbling down the leaderboard.

The world's top two golfers were on one under par with a round to go at Atlanta Athletic Club and that was six adrift of Americans Jason Dufner and Brendan Steele, who in the first Major of his life - like 2003 Open Championship winner Ben Curtis - shot a 66.

"I'm completely fed up. I've had enough now," said Westwood after dropping two shots on the 468 yard 14th in an otherwise bogey-free 70.

"I made two birdies and they were from five foot putts. I missed five inside ten feet and you can't do that on these greens - everybody else is making them."

Asked what more he can do to cure a problem that has dogged him most of the season, Westwood replied: "Different religion maybe. I've tried everything else and I need inspiration from somewhere.

"I would like to think they will drop tomorrow, but they haven't dropped all year, so why should they tomorrow?"

The double bogey came when he drove into sand, rolled down a cart path with his second and then three-putted, missing from inside four feet just as he had for birdie on the long 12th.

Donald was equally frustrated after becoming another victim of arguably the toughest closing hole in golf.

The World Number One faced a ten foot putt on the short 15th to take a share of top spot - it would have made him a brilliant six under par for the day - but missed it and after bogeying the 16th the 507 yard par four 18th saw him drive into sand and then go in the water with his third shot.

"I am angry," he said after signing for a 68 and one under aggregate that left him and Westwood down in 14th place.

"I had something good going and I threw it away.

"It's just a shame to waste it like I did. I worked so hard to get to five under.

"Those last few holes are tough, but on the third shot to 18 I was probably too aggressive with my line and just pushed it.

"I gave myself a lot of chances, that's the positive thing, and if I can go low tomorrow who knows? But obviously the finish leaves a bitter taste in my mouth."

Texas Open winner Steele (66) and Dufner (68), yet to win on the US PGA Tour, led by one from Keegan Bradley - also playing his first Major, but nephew of Pat Bradley, winner of six women's Majors - and by two from Scott Verplank.

With Steve Stricker on five under, Americans fill the top five places. And this, of course, after they have gone six Majors without winning one for the first time since The Masters Tournament in 1934.

Hansen was in a tie for sixth, with Swede Robert Karlsson, Masters Tournament champion Charl Schwartzel and last week’s WGC-Bridgestone Invitational winner Adam Scott amongst those on two under.

Rory McIlroy, meanwhile, admitted to frustration as his hopes evaporated in the heat - despite one of the more extraordinary shots of his career.

McIlroy managed only a four over par 74 and dropped outside the top 60 on seven over par.

He started with a three-putt six and was in the lake for another double bogey at the short 15th, but the most memorable moment came on the 207 yard 17th - scene of his triple bogey in the second round.

McIlroy, his right arm still bandaged after his incident with a tree root on Thursday, was perilously close to going into the water again.

But instead his ball hit the wall bordering the green, flew high up into the air and finished nine feet from the flag.

It left him wondering what would have come of the week if the same had happened 24 hours earlier, when he came to the hole only two strokes off third place.

"That would have been nice," said the 22 year old US Open Champion, who came into the week as favourite.

"I think there were two pivotal moments in this tournament for me - obviously the shot on the third on Thursday [the one he admits in hindsight he should not have attempted] and the six iron on 17 yesterday."

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