Dougherty in contention at Celtic Manor

England’s Nick Dougherty burst into contention for the Wales Open at Celtic Manor today.

Eighth in the race for Ryder Cup places, the 26-year-old reached the turn in 33 in his third round and when he added further birdies at the 11th and 12th he was into a share of second place.

Still leading was Australian Scott Strange, but after taking a four-stroke advantage at halfway that gap was down to three after two birdies and a bogey in his first eight holes.

Alongside Dougherty on 11 under were Indian Jeev Milkha Singh, French pair Thomas Levet and Raphael Jacquelin and Spaniard Alvaro Velasco.

Darren Clarke was boosting his cup hopes as well, improving from four under to eight under before finding sand at the 477-yard 16th and bogeying, but Colin Montgomerie mixed two birdies with two bogeys in his first 15 holes and was only in joint 27th place.

England’s Robert Dinwiddie and Benn Barham, joint second overnight, managed only one birdie each in the first eight holes to be in the group on 10 under.

Earlier Yorkshireman Danny Willett continued his professional debut with a 69 to stand three under.

The 20-year-old former world amateur number one made the cut in dramatic fashion by chipping in for an eagle on Friday night and had one of the best scores of the morning after fog had again delayed the start of play.

Willett, a member of last September’s Walker Cup side and winner of English, Spanish and Australian amateur titles, is allowed seven invitations and has a target of just under £150,000 to avoid the end-of-year qualifying school.

He allowed himself “a bit of a chuckle” after being told a television commentator had predicted he might not make the cut.

Willett, who finished 19th and 10th as an amateur in his first two Tour starts, is not sure yet where his next opportunities will come, but said: “You want the seven best you can.”

Cup team-mate Rory McIlroy, who turned pro last September and in his second event earned £147,000 for third place in the Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland, had a 68 for six under.

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