Caldwell comes a cropper

The greens at Gleneagles came in for criticism from players at the Johnnie Walker Championship today, with Jonathan Caldwell among their scalps.

The greens at Gleneagles came in for criticism from players at the Johnnie Walker Championship today, with Jonathan Caldwell among their scalps.

Caldwell four-putted the 13th for a triple bogey seven, to tumble down the table to two under, having been just two strokes off the eight under lead of Sweden's Peter Hedblom.

Hedblom, himself rating the greens the worst he has played on all year, takes a one-shot lead into the final day.

He fired a third round 68 to overtake former Open champion Paul Lawrie, whose bogeys at the 15th and 16th holes led to a one over 73, and a final day start point of seven under.

“The scoring would be much lower if the greens were better," said Hedblom.

“You know you’re going to miss some short ones and you just need to keep cool - but it’s tough.”

Last year Lee Westwood called for the greens to be ripped up and relaid before the 2014 Ryder Cup.

Next August the course will again be staging the final counting event for Europe’s side and captain Colin Montgomerie – also this week’s tournament chairman – admits the problem will not be solved by then.

Montgomerie, who returned a 72 to remain level par, stated: “They have a five-year (improvement) plan and this is the second year.

"There is obviously work to do and it is on-going. By definition a five-year plan takes five years. The greens won't improve tomorrow, but there is nothing to worry about for the Ryder Cup - they will be fantastic by then.

“They weren’t so good at the K Club about five or six years before the Ryder Cup was played there and they were fine come the championship, so I think the same goes for these.”

Four players are only two behind – Lawrie’s fellow Scot Steven O’Hara, Welshman Jamie Donaldson, Ryder Cup Dane Soren Hansen and Frenchman Gregory Bourdy.

O’Hara is trying to become the first player in European Tour history to win after surviving the halfway cut with nothing to spare.

The 29-year-old matched the low round of the week with his 66 early in the day, but still came off disappointed knowing it could so easily have been “a wee bit better.”

After 15 holes O’Hara was a spectacular eight under for the day and joint leader, but he three-putted the long 16th for a bogey six and dropped another shot on the 194-yard 17th after bunkering his tee shot.

Once again O’Hara thanked his wife Jill for caring after their three-week-old son Logan during the night as he slept in the spare room.

“She’s absolutely shattered – like a zombie – but I had a good night and I just wanted to get back into contention.”

He sank a 15-foot eagle putt on the second, turned in 31 and had a hat-trick of birdies from the 12th.

There was also a big move from England’s Richard Bland, another who survived the cut by the skin of his teeth.

Bland, who has missed the cut in eight of his past 10 events and is 143rd on the money list, was first out and, playing on his own, shot a 67 to climb from 48th into a tie for seventh.

In contrast double Masters champion Jose Maria Olazabal bogeyed the final four holes for a 77 that dropped him from fifth to 32nd alongside Montgomerie, who was also asked about the controversy over event sponsors Diageo’s plans to cut their Scottish workforce by 900.

“Nothing to do with me and thank goodness for that, but I feel sympathy for every Scot that’s lost their job – these are very difficult times,” said Montgomerie.

The Unite union were distributing badges at the tournament with the slogan “Save Diageo Jobs” on them.

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