Pampling struggles but maintains lead

BY Bruce Young | Australasian PGA Tour | 2004 Australian Open | Round Three | 27 Nov 2004
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Irrespective of the conditions on day three of the Hillross Australian Open Championship, the Australian Golf Club’s layout was always going to provide a test of both game and character. They were not strong winds today, especially early, and the pins were perhaps slightly more generous than yesterday, but what wind there was, combined with a drying golf course and the demands of day three at Australia’s most prestigious tournament, meant that it would not take much for the swings and roundabouts of tournament golf to kick in.

Rod Pampling, so much in command over the first two days, started shakily with bogeys at the first and second and when he went on to bogey the fifth, the sole lead he had held for so long had disappeared. Kurt Barnes, who just two weeks ago had won the Toyota Queensland PGA Championship, birdied the third and when Pampling slipped to three over for the day, Barnes was there to gratefully accept a share of that lead.

Over the next few holes, Barnes outplayed the more experienced Pampling with a series of delightful iron shots, not all of which he converted, but he did birdie the 7th and 8th to stay in touch with the Queenslander and birdied again at the 9th to regain a share of the lead again after his 8th hole bogey.

Five groups and forty five minutes ahead, Richard Green was on the move and taking advantage of the leader’s early misfortune. Green himself had taken double bogey at the par five 5th, but before and after that misfortune, he found plenty of birdies which assisted in his outward nine of 32 a nine which included seven 3s. Green’s real highlight came at the par five 15th where a drive and three wood left him just short of the green and he holed a nice little pitch shot from there for his eagle.

“I played today like I did on Thursday and like I have all year,” he said. “I lost my way a little on the back nine yesterday with the long irons, probably trying to force it a little. Today the rhythm was there and when I holed that pitch for birdie at the first, I had good feelings about the round immediately.”

Pampling and Barnes still had three holes to play when Green walked from the 18th but when Barnes bogeyed the 16th he had dropped back behind Pampling and Green and the question would be whether Pampling could finish at five or six under. He answered part of that question when he birdied the par four 17th, from twenty feet and the difference was two again. A bogey at the last after finding the bunker from the tee saw him finish at five under just one ahead of Green, two ahead of Barnes and gave those even further back, something to dine on tonight.

In addition to Green and Barnes there is a heavyweight line up all within five shots of Pampling including Gow, Appleby, Allenby, Lonard, Estes and Stephen Leaney.

After his round Pampling said that he was disappointed with his chipping early on but the greens were tough as could be expected late in the day. He thinks if he can shoot even par or better then he can win it.

Pampling has now led this event for twenty eight holes and if he is to win it he will have led for 47 holes. That may yet be a factor when the whips are cracking late tomorrow. He is ahead but not far enough yet for a comfort zone. He is a complete golfer but tomorrow he will need to be, as the Australian layout will ensure that the 2004 Australian Open Champion will be worthy of that title.

Jason Day leads the amateurs into day four, his 71 today seeing him finish at 6 over.

Photo – Anthony Powter/Snapeture Sports

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    About the Author: Bruce Young

    A multi-award winning golf journalist, Bruce's extensive knowledge of the game comes from several years caddying the tournament circuits of the world, marketing a successful golf course design company and as one of Australia's leading golf journalists and commentators.

    Read all of Bruce's articles »

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