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Soderberg and Syme share lead in windy Wales

Soderberg and Syme share lead in windy Wales

Sebastian Soderberg carded a bogey free 68 to join long time leader Connor Syme at the top of the leaderboard heading into the final day of the 2020 ISPS HANDA Wales Open.

Sebastian Soderberg

The weather veered from glorious sunshine to high winds and heavy rain at The Celtic Manor Resort but Swede Soderberg was a picture of consistency as he moved to seven under.

Scot Syme has had at least a share of the lead after every round this week and last week's 54-hole leader birdied the last in a 70 that took him back to the top of the pile.

Finn Sami Välimäki was then three shots off the lead, one ahead of Italy's Edoardo Molinari and Belgian Thomas Pieters.

English pair David Dixon and James Morrison, South African Dean Burmester, Frenchman Romain Langasque and German Marcel Siem were all at two under in the fifth event of the UK Swing.

Soderberg knows a thing or two about facing pressure on a Sunday after overcoming Rory McIlroy as part of a five man play-off to win his maiden European Tour title at the Omega European Masters last season.

His finish at last week's Celtic Classic was his first top ten since that victory but he was full of confidence as he went in search of a second appearance at the U.S. Open.

“It’s probably one of the better bogey-free rounds I’ve ever played," he said. "I hit a lot of good shots, always kept the ball in play off the tee and my short game was just perfect every time I was in trouble. It wasn’t stress free but it was very good.

“It feels great to be in position, I just try and stay patient. If it’s the same wind tomorrow, it’s so easy for it to just get away from you so every shot is a battle, even in the downwind holes. If you start losing focus it’s easy to make some big numbers. I just need to keep battling shot by shot.”

The top ten from the UK Swing mini Order of Merit at the end of this event will be making their way to Winged Foot Golf Club and Soderberg and Syme both moved into those positions, with Välimäki and Pieters also provisionally set for the season's second Major Championship.

Syme has finished fourth, third and second in his European Tour career and will now be looking to take the next step in Newport after going out in the final group on the same layout last week.

“Finding myself in the same position as last week, I’ll just try and do the same stuff I’ve been doing all week," he said. "I don’t think it’s going to be quite as windy tomorrow but it’s a different challenge with that compared to last week.

"It would be amazing to win having come close last week. You don’t really know how many times you’ll get those opportunities so it’s another one tomorrow. If it doesn’t happen it’s not the end of the world but hopefully I’m going to play well tomorrow and give myself a chance.”

Syme made a brilliant start as he briefly extended his overnight lead to three shots with a 25 foot right to lefter on the first.

Soberberg was two back when he birdied the fourth from six feet and a 15 foot putt on the par five ninth edged him to within one.

Syme missed a golden opportunity to extend his lead from three feet on the tenth and was punished on the next, as his second found sand and he spun his third off the green to surrender a bogey.

Soderberg made a brilliant up-and-down from the rough to the right of the driveable 15th to hit the front on his own, but Syme hit back from ten feet on the 14th.

The 25-year-old then found himself in the rough to the right of the 15th green but he made a bogey and it was Soderberg alone at the top once more.

Syme, however, had birdied the par five last on days one and two and he made it a hat-trick from 18 feet to leave us tied at the top.

Välimäki sandwiched a gain on the par five 11th with birdies on the third and 14th, and when he got up and down on the 15th, he was creeping up the leaderboard.

The Oman Open champion used the contours at the par three 17th to set up a birdie but three putted the last to give the shot back.

Molinari has fond memories of Celtic Manor after his Ryder Cup appearance in 2010 and he birdied the 17th and 18th to add to a gain on the 12th as he came home in 32 after turning in level par with two birdie and two bogeys.

Pieters also played in the Ryder Cup six years after Molinari and he drove the 15th for a fourth birdie of the day after making gains on the other three par fives to go with bogeys on the sixth and 13th.

Morrison matched the lowest round of the week with a 66, Siem carded a 67, Burmester signed for a 68, Dixon was level par for the day and Langasque recorded a 72.

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