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Forrest and Hill lead home charge in Scotland

Forrest and Hill lead home charge in Scotland

Grant Forrest and Calum Hill improved the chances of a home champion after sharing the third round lead at the 2021 Hero Open.

Grant Forrest

There has not been a home winner in Scotland on the European Tour since Paul Lawrie won the 2012 Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles. but Forrest or Hill could change that on Sunday.

Forrest started the day seven shots behind overnight leader Denmark's Lucas Bjerregaard on eight under and his challenge at the summit looked more unlikely after an opening bogey.

But Forrest got hot around the turn thanks to seven birdies in eight holes before finishing in style with three more gains in his final four holes to card a brilliant 62 and match the course record at Fairmont St Andrews.

He rolled in 11 birdies to reach a total of 18 under and was eventually joined by fellow countryman Hill, who, after turning in 31, responded to his first two bogeys of the week with birdies at the 15th and the last.

Spaniard Santiago Tarrio was one shot adrift of the leaders, with another home favourite David Law sat alongside Bjerregaard at 16 under.

"It's great. They've (Law and Hill) played really solid all year, Dave especially recently as well. To play at St Andrews, the home of golf, and to have three Scots up there is great," Forrest said.

"Today I changed my putting grip and made pretty much everything and I think Lucas' (Bjerregaard) putter has rubbed off on me a little bit. I just hit lots of really good putts today. It's tough making putts in that wind, you need a little bit of luck and I got that so I'm delighted.

"I've been feeling confident in my game so I'm just trying to trust that, and trust that the good scores are going to come along."

Bjerregaard held a two shot lead at the start of the third round but by the time he had finished the second hole, he was one behind playing partner Hill.

The Dane got in trouble in the rough to run up a double bogey to drop back to 13 under, but Hill nudged himself in front thanks to a huge 33 foot birdie putt.

It got better for the 26-year-old as he got his second shot at the par five third to six feet and when he rolled in the eagle putt, he was at 16 under.

Bjerregaard responded with a birdie at the same hole to close the gap to two shots and improved further with a gain at the fourth.

A dropped shot at the fifth continued his roller coaster round to slip back to 14 under but he carded successive birdies at the sixth and seventh. However, Hill had moved ahead.

The Scot recorded a gain at the sixth before holing another from six feet at the next to get to 18 under.

Further ahead, Forrest made his charge. After an opening bogey, he picked the shot back up at the third before a birdie blitz around the turn.

Tap in efforts at the sixth and seventh saw him climb to double figures and he made it a hat-trick with a huge putt from 49 feet. He rounded off the front nine with another birdie at the ninth and he did not stop there.

He added another at the tenth and when he made it six in a row at the 11th, he was at 14 under. Forrest missed a putt for a gain from eight feet at the next but made it seven in eight holes at the 13th from 20 feet.

Hill dropped his first shot of the week at the tenth and when Forrest birdied the 15th, he was one behind.

Forrest joined his compatriot at the top as he carded his tenth gain of the round at the 16th, but he was sole leader when Hill bogeyed the 14th.

Forrest briefly moved two ahead as he completed his career best round of 62 with a closing birdie to finish on 18 under, but Hill responded with a gain at the 15th before holding his nerve to join his countryman at the top with another at the last.

Calum Hill

"I played really nice. It was difficult to make putts when it got windy," Hill said. "I think that halted my score a little bit because today was my best ball-striking round but yeah, very happy.

"This is what you play for isn't it? I'm looking forward to it, especially with a home crowd and family watching. I'll be giving it my best."

Tarrio overcame a bogey at the second with four straight gains from the third before a birdie-birdie finish saw him climb into solo third place.

Law carded his lowest round of the week with a 66 to join Bjerregaard at 16 under, while American Berry Henson recorded his third successive 67 to sit alongside Matthew Jordan at 15 under.

English duo Jordan Smith and James Morrison, American Chase Hanna and South Africa's Justin Walters were one shot further back.

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