A third-round, seven-under-par 65 from Sweden’s Pontus Widegren may have pushed hopes of a home win in the European Amateur Championship beyond leading Irish men Kevin Phelan and Alan Dunbar.
Widegren’s score took him to 13 under par after 54 holes, leaving Waterford Castle’s Phelan six shots in arrears going into today’s final round on the par-72 Montgomerie Course, while Rathmore’s British Amateur champion Dunbar is eight shots back.
Phelan and Dunbar were left to rue rounds of 70 and 71 respectively on a day when Widegren’s 65 and a new course record of 62 from Welshman James Frazer showed the Montgomerie was there for the taking.
Frazer, 25, needed only 10 putts on the back nine and missed a 15ft for eagle on 15. No matter, his birdie at that hole was one of four in a row between 14 and 17, capped off with an eagle at the 18th. Things were rolling so fluidly for the Welshman that his 30-footer at the last was only intended as a lag putt. It dropped in the cup to beat the course record of Damian Mooney and matched by Sweden’s Daniel Jennevret and Dunbar in rounds one and two respectively this week by two shots.
The 62 catapulted Frazer into contention in this prestigious tournament, for which the winner gains entry into next year’s British Open at Muirfield and Irish Open back at Carton House.
He now lies at nine under par, three off the lead in a tie for fourth, with Portugal’s Goncalo Pinto a shot behind Widegren following a third 68 in a row and Spain’s Juan Francisco Sarasti two back on 10 under.
Phelan is the best-placed Irishman at seven under having failed to repeat his second-round 66 in a third round that began bogey-bogey. The Florida-based 21-year-old got back on track with four birdies but his two other birdies of the round followed bogeys at the 14th and 17th. The Brabazon Trophy runner-up though, was not ruling out a victory charge today.
Phelan said: “I struggled a little bit today but if I can give myself chances we’ll see how it goes.”
Dunbar’s chief concern yesterday was an errant drive off the fourth tee which flew off 90 yards to the right of the par-five. “Worst tee shot ever,” Dunbar said with a rueful smile.
At least he will still be around for today’s final round, one of only five Irish men left from a starting contingent of 17 players. Geoff Lenehan (71) is one under, Richard O’Donovan (73) lies level par and Paul Dunne (73) at two over are the others to have survived the cut, Gary Hurley at three over falling just the wrong side of the line.
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