Saturday, February 24, 2018

Fisher and Pepperell share two-shot lead at Qatar Masters

Oliver Fisher and Eddie Pepperell share the lead heading into the final day of the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters after an enthralling third round at Doha Golf Club.
Pepperell took a share of top spot on the very first hole and maintained that position until Fisher finished with four birdies in a row to card a 65 and set the clubhouse target at 16 under 200.
Fellow Englishman Pepperell then fought back with gains on the 16th and 18th in his 66 to move two ahead of American Sean Crocker.
Italian duo Lorenzo Gagli and Andrea Pavan, Frenchman Grégory Havret, England's David Horsey and Swede Marcus Kinhult were then two shots further back at 12 under 204.
Pepperell found some brilliant form at the end of 2017, securing four top fives and three top tens from his last ten events but he missed his first two cuts this season before playing the weekend in Malaysia and Oman.
The 27 year old has been working with a new coach recently and the work looks to be paying dividends as he shares the lead after 54 holes for the second time at a European Tour event in search of a first title.
"I would say that was my best round, especially with the position I was in going into the day," he said. "I hit a lot of good shots, I maybe lost a little feeling through the turn, but I bounced back nicely and I didn't let it bother me
"I am looking forward to it. I've committed to some swing feelings today that have been really good and my whole game feels like it's there. Mentally I feel like I'm up for it – I wanted to lead today and I didn't want to be behind the leader.
"Oli is a good friend of mine although he is a closer friend of Rory McIlroy apparently! He's a good lad so it's going to be great to be out with him and Sean, who I think will definitely be 50 yards past me on most tees but we can deal with that."
Fisher has a win to his name at the 2011 Czech Open but he too had a slow start to the season, making two of his first six cuts.
"I gave myself some chances coming in and thankfully I made them," he said.
"We've still got one round to go, a lot of golf to be played out there but I've certainly put myself in a good position. The most important thing for tomorrow is to go out and enjoy it. I'm good friends with Eddie so hopefully we'll have a bit if fun out there."
Pepperell birdied the first to get to 11 under alongside overnight leader Adrian Otaegui and while that group would swell to six - with Fisher among their number after some dialled-in irons brought birdies on the third and fifth - a 15-footer on the fifth moved Pepperell ahead.
A beautiful tee-shot from Fisher saw him share the lead again but Pepperell put an approach to six feet on the seventh to get to 13 under and hold the solo lead as the final group reached the turn.
A 20-foot left-to-righter from Fisher on the 11th meant there was a tie again but the 29 year old dropped a shot on the next and with Pepperell making a tap-in birdie on the par five tenth, the lead was up to two.
It looked like it would disappear completely on the 12th when Pepperell hit the rocks with his second to leave his ball short of the green, hit a poor chip into the rocks again with his next and repeated the trick with his fourth to leave the ball at his feet. The chip-in with his fifth was almost nonchalant and he surrendered just a single stroke.
A long putt on the 13th meant he was two ahead again but a string of glorious shots saw Fisher overturn him, hitting a beautiful approach to the 15th, almost holing his chip on the par five next and leaving himself 12 feet for birdie off the tee on the 17th.
Crocker had fallen back as he turned in level par but edged himself into contention with birdies on the 11th and 12th. A nice approach to the 15th helped him to 12 under and when he drove the green and eagled the 16th for the second day in a row, he was in a share of second.
That was soon two back, however, as Fisher completed his stunning finish with a 20-foot left-to-righter to get to 16 under.
Pepperell may have had trouble with the rocks earlier but he got a fortunate bounce on the 16th and got up and down for birdie to cut the lead back to one before a nice third set up a closing birdie.
Horsey had started his day with an eagle but bogeyed the third before making gains on the fourth, seventh, tenth, 13th and 16th to share the lead, with a closing gain seeing him set the early target after a 65.
Gagli had also shared the lead after birdies on the second, fourth, fifth, ninth and tenth but parred his way home in a bogey-free 67.
Pavan had a birdie-birdie-birdie finish as he also posted a 67, Kinhult eagled the 16th and birdied the last en route to the same score, while Havret made a single bogey in his 70.
Spanish duo Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño and Pablo Larrazábal, English pair James Morrison and Chris Wood, Swede Joakim Lagergren, Frenchman Mike Lorenzo-Vera and Japan's Hideto Tanihara were at 11 under 205.
Scotland's Stephen Gallacher, in the mix after rounds of 68 and 66, dropped out of contention with a 74 for 208 and a T33 placing alongside Marc Warren who had a 70.
Due to expected bad weather, the fourth round will go off two tees between 06.30am and 08.30am on Sunday.

par 216 (3x72)
200 E Pepperell (Eng) 65 69 66, O Fisher (Eng) 66 69 65.
202 S Crocker (USA) 67 68 67.
204 M Kinhult (Sweden) 68 69 67, G Havret (France) 65 69 70, D Horsey (Eng) 71 68 65, A Pavan (Italy) 68 69 67, L Gagli (Italy) 67 70 67.

208 S Gallacher 68 66 74, M Warren  68 70 70 (T33).
211 P Lawrie 68 72 71 (T58)
214 G Forrest 70 70 74 (T72)
215 S Jamieson 69 71 75 (T75)





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