Laird gives fans reason to smile

14/07/2012 14:23:12
Martin Laird  (Getty Images)
Martin Laird (Getty Images)
Home favourite Martin Laird thrilled the Castle Stuart Golf Links crowd by setting an impressive clubhouse target in the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open.

The Scot was six adrift of overnight leaders Alexander Noren and Francesco Molinari heading into the third round, yet delivered a masterclass at Inverness.

Laird produced nine birdies in all - efforts that capped round of 64, that included just one bogey, to leave him 14 under par alongside Thomas Levet, who was through 16.

The Frenchman enjoyed a sparkling run on the back nine, birdying five holes in six immediately after the turn.

That, however, was not enough to stave off Molinari, who began in a manner that has been all too familiar for his opponents in recent times.

The Italian parred the first, but then picked up shots on two and three. Yet, despite a brilliant first to the par three fourth, he missed a short putt and settled for par.

He and Noren then further illustrated their form with two beautiful wedge shots to set up birdies that ensured they moved to 15 under.

A shot adrift of Laird was Søren Kjeldsen, who followed up an opening 65 with 72 yesterday and began today knowing a surge would be necessary to challenge those at the top.

The Dane produced just that, and could not have got off to a better start as he birdied the first four before the streak was ended with a par on the next.

Undeterred, he picked up shots on six , seven and eight, with a par on nine ensuring he turned in 29.

He began the back nine with four pars but a bogey on 14 left him on 13 under - one shot ahead World Number One Luke Donald.

The Englishman - defending his title - completed a fourth birdie in six holes, following up an oustanding bunker shot with a simple putt.

He followed a bogey by hitting his tee shot on right on the par three eighth, but, typically, holed a 25 footer to save par and stay just three off the lead.