CaƱizares claims slender advantage

5/25/2013 5:27:00 PM
Alejandro Canizares   (Getty Images)
Alejandro Canizares (Getty Images)
Spain’s Alejandro Cañizares, playing his first event since a meningitis scare, leads Ryder Cup star Lee Westwood by a single shot going into the final round of the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth Club.

Cañizares birdied the final two holes to complete a 68 as he seeks a second European Tour title in his first event since pulling out of the Volvo China Open at the start of the month after being diagnosed with viral meningitis.

Cañizares, the son of four-time Ryder Cup player Jose Maria Cañizares, won the Russian Open on his third start as an affiliate tour member in 2006 but had more limited ambitions at the start of the week.

"This week I was just happy to be able to swing the club," said the 30 year old, who was taken ill on the flight from Korea to China and treated in a Beijing hospital before being allowed to return home.

"After the practice round on Tuesday I felt really tired because it was the first 18 holes I had walked in three weeks. I had no idea how I was going to feel so I am very pleased that it's working out for me.

"Every now and then I get a little weird feeling in my head, but the doctors say that is normal."

Westwood admits it will be ironic if his first victory since moving to Florida comes in England, where the World Number 12 could win The European Tour’s Flagship Event for the first time at the 20th attempt.

Westwood goes into the final round one shot behind after a 67 gave him an eight under par total of 208 at a gloriously sunny Wentworth Club.

"I'm still far from holding the trophy but it would be ironic," said Westwood, who has credited the vast improvement in his short game to moving to the United States in December last year.

"It would be great and I am after as many wins as I can get, but it's a crowded leaderboard and I will have to play as well as if not better than I did today.

"I felt much more in tune with my swing and had a lot better distance and direction control with my irons and set up a lot of chances. It was one of the most fun days I have ever had on a golf course.

"It was good to see a lot more smiling faces and a lot more people prepared to take their hands out of their pockets and applaud. I get great support here but even more so today."

Westwood has finished second twice in this event before - to Colin Montgomerie in 2000 and in a play-off with Luke Donald in 2011 - but also won the World Match Play Championship at Wentworth in 2000.

Asked if a win on Sunday would be the biggest of his career, the 40 year old added: "It would be right up there, probably in the top three. Dubai (in 2009) was probably the biggest because that was to win the money list as well, while in 1997 I went down to Australia and beat Greg Norman for the Australian Open in a play-off and I rate that highly."

Italy's Matteo Manassero (69) and Scotland's Mark Warren (70) share third place on seven under par, with Ireland's Shane Lowry (69) a shot further back.

Manassero played in the final group with eventual winner Luke Donald in 2011 and went on to finish seventh, while Warren will be looking to erase memories of the recent Open de España when he bogeyed three of the last six holes to miss out on a play-off.

"It would be huge (to win),” said Warren. “This is our premier event, the biggest event we play outside the Majors. For us it doesn't get any bigger. Career-wise it would mean the world to me."

Spain's Sergio Garcia was among an eight-strong group four shots off the lead on five under which also includes halfway leader Francesco Molinari, the Italian recovering from dropping five shots in three holes before the turn to cover the back nine in 34 for a 73.

"I think it's been a tough week but we've been getting better every day, so hopefully we can finish on a high note tomorrow," said Garcia.

"There's no doubt that everybody has made it so much easier for me. The crowds here, I don't have words to explain what I feel towards them. They have been amazing, every single tee, every single green, cheering me on. I can never pay them back.”

Spain's Miguel Angel Jiménez, playing his 600th European Tour event, carded a 67 to lie five shots off the lead on four under.