Paul Casey was put under pressure by his two most dangerous opponents when the third round of the Quinn Direct British Masters began at The Belfry today.
Three clear of the field after opening rounds of 67 and 66 on the course where he won the 2003 Benson and Hedges International by four, Casey’s par fours at the first and second meant he had stil to register a bogey in the tournament.
But his lead was cut by one when US open champion Michael Campbell fired in approaches to within 10 feet of the flag at the first two holes, made the putts and then birdied the long third as well.
Casey was 11 under, Campbell 10 under and Darren Clarke nine under thanks to an 18-footer at the first.
Casey, Clarke and their Ryder Cup team-mate Ian Poulter – he three-putted the second and slipped to six under – teed off at 9.50am, the explanation being that television wanted the action to finish before the FA Cup final.
The timing was still too late, however, to allow Liverpool fan Clarke to get to Cardiff in time.
A helicopter had been planned for himself, Paul McGinley and Thomas Bjorn, but McGinley missed the halfway cut and so did not need it, while Bjorn was also a late starter, but sadly for the defending champion he was down near the rear of the field.
The Dane was, in fact, surprised to have made the cut on level par, but far from making a move forward he followed a birdie three on the 10th – his first - with a bogey at the next and then a triple bogey six at the 12th to be three over.
Words were exchanged on the first hole by Casey and his caddie Craig Connolly with a photographer, who had his lens focused on Poulter and clicked as the leader was taking his second shot.
Casey's hopes of becoming the first player since David J Russell in 1992 to go through a European Tour event without a bogey - Tiger Woods fell at the very last hole in the 2002 American Express World Championship - ended when he ran up a bogey six on the 538-yard third.
And the consequence of it was that he and Campbell shared the lead, with Clarke one behind and Poulter’s birdie on the same hole bringing him back into a tie for fourth with Swedes Jarmo Sandelin and Johan Edfors and Australian Peter O’Malley.