Stenson surges two ahead at Qatar Masters
BY iseekgolf.com | European PGA Tour | 2005 Qatar Masters | Round Three | 13 Mar 2005
Swede Henrik Stenson produced the fireworks on his back nine en route to a two-shot lead after the third round of the Qatar Masters on Saturday as Richard Green, Arjun Atwal and Ernie Els kept themselves in the title frame.
Dubai-based Stenson charged up the leaderboard with a flawless six-under-par 66 at Doha Golf Club, giving himself a shot at a third career title at the US$1.5 million event, jointly sanctioned for the first time by the Asian Tour and European Tour.
Fellow Swede Niclas Fasth, winner in New Zealand in February, carded a 69 with four birdies over his last seven holes for tied second place alongside halfway leader Richard Green of Australia, who scrambled to a 73.
Atwal, using a borrowed driver, signed for a 71 to lead Asia’s charge and ended the day in tied sixth place, four off the pace while world number three Els was a further stroke behind after returning a 69. Thailand’s Thaworn Wiratchant started the day two behind the leader but a double-bogey on his first hole saw him sign for a 75 as he dropped to tied 14th place.
“I didn’t have a great start. I had a birdie on the fourth and kept plugging away and then got it going on the back nine,” said Stenson, who leads on 10-under-par 206. “It’s certainly put me in a good position and a lot can happen. I’ve got a good chance now, I think.”
Atwal, who also plays on the US PGA Tour, made an early run with three birdies in his first eight holes before dropping a bogey on the ninth after finding water with his second shot. He dropped two more bogeys on the back nine against one birdie.
“I hit it really good on the front nine but struggled on the back nine. I hit it pin high on every hole and had birdie putts on the first eight holes. Then bogeyed nine which I’ve been doing this week.
“I’m surprised no one is taking a bigger lead. I thought the guys on eight under would have taken a bit more. It was pretty easy as there was hardly any wind when we played. Four back, I’ll give it my best shot tomorrow,” said Atwal, who lost his regular driver on Friday morning.
Els was a frustrated man on the greens, missing numerous birdie chances as he produced some of his best golf. The big South African, nicknamed the “Big Easy” feels he has got an outside chance of landing his second straight title in the Gulf after winning an unprecedented third title at the Dubai Desert Classic last Sunday.
“I played good today but I missed a lot of putts. That was the best I’ve played all week but the flags are a bit difficult. They’ve got the pins in a lot of corners and it was difficult to make birdies.
“Hopefully, I’m within five of the lead so that will give me an outside chance. I know the course really well now. I burnt a lot of edges with the putts, I’ve just got to keep going. There’s another day to go and I’ll have to keep the hope alive,” said Els.
Thaworn got unlucky right from the opening hole, hooking his approach shot into wasteland before running up a double bogey seven. “I never recovered from that. Didn’t really have many chances as I was leaving all my putts short today. It was frustrating but I’ll aim for a good finish tomorrow,” said the unorthodox swinging Thai, who is on 212.
A player expected to make a run was reigning Asian Tour number one Thongchai but like Els, he couldn’t find the bottom of the cup as he settled for a 73. He dropped early shots on the third and fourth before snaring two birdies at the eighth and 11th. A three putt bogey on 14 put the brakes on his hopes of ending the day higher on the leaderboard.
“I hit all the greens on the back nine but could not really make a birdie. I took 32 putts in total today. The pins were tough and it was hard to read the greens. I was also unlucky to have three lip-outs,” said Thongchai, who is tied 30th on 215.
Source – Asian Tour