Saturday, February 17, 2018

Matt finishes with a flourish to complete stunning comeback
Tournament: NBO Oman Open
Race to Dubai: Tournament ten of 47 events
Venue: Al Mouj Golf, Muscat
Prize fund: $1,750,000
The image of Matthew Southgate is used by courtesy of Getty Images 

Day Three Report

Matthew Southgate from Southend, winner of the 2010 St Andrews Links Trophy as an amateur, produced a remarkable comeback during a rollercoaster round on moving day at the NBO Oman Open.
The Englishman stormed into a three-stroke lead early on before dropping four shots in four holes and then battling to regain those four shots for a third share of the third-round lead.
The 29 year old, who overcame testicular cancer in 2015, carded a three under 69 but he took an unusual route to that score, starting like a steam train as he birdied the opening three to move clear of the pack.
A bogey on the fourth was soon followed by another dropped shot on the sixth and then a double-bogey at the par five seventh. 
Southgate showed great courage, however, as he birdied the ninth to reach the turn in level par before picking up three more shots on the way home – including holing an 18-footer for birdie at the last – to move to a 12 under total.
He joined Joost Luiten of the Netherlands and Julien Guerrier of France at the top as they both signed for rounds of 66 to set up in intriguing finale in the inaugural edition of the event. 
Chris Wood is a shot further back despite finishing bogey-bogey while Spaniard Adrian Otaegui was out on his own in fifth place on nine under.
Player quotes:
Matthew Southgate
“My scorecard does tell the story of my day. It was quite funny really, we birdied the ninth and I walked off and said to my caddie Gary, ‘that was nine pars Gaz, I don’t know what you’re talking about’.
“He laughed and I said, ‘I’m serious, we can create any outcome that we want in our mind and we’ve just shot level par for nine holes so let’s just pretend that we’ve made nine solid pars, that we haven’t holed a putt, haven’t made a birdie and let’s just start again on the tenth’.
“That’s exactly what we did and we executed the gameplan and I’ve got a 69 on the card, so it was a good day’s work.
“Things were great early on, I was very calm, very relaxed. I was happy to see my putt at the first go in because the greens are very pace-sensitive out there and Matthieu (Pavon) hit his first putt seven or eight feet past and it would have been very easy for me to read too much into that and come up short. But I floated in a perfect putting pace ad thought, ‘this is good’.
“At four I was just trying to play safe and run up a five. I thought I’d hit two good shots but it just crept over the green – it’s one of those ones where you think, ‘I’ve almost hit that second shot too good’. You can’t beat yourself up for hitting shots too good.
“Obviously the seven at the seventh was ugly and I did really well mentally – I can beat myself up a lot on the golf course, I’ve got a bit of a temper – but to come off that, go onto the eighth and get back playing was really impressive, for me looking at myself. I’m chuffed with that.
“The birdie at nine was big. It takes a big heart to hit shots like that because a part of you wants to go and hide in a corner and cry. People say to you, keep going, but I’m not going to walk in! You can do two thigs, you can hide behind your caddie ad sulk and knock it around in level or over par, or you can take it on the chin, rise up to the challenge and try to hit good golf shots.
“That’s something I’m really of proud of having done today because it’s very hard to get out there and keep going but that was definitely a turning point at nine.
“The birdie at the 18th was lovely. Obviously I slipped on the tee yesterday, straight into the water but today I couldn’t have hit a three wood any harder.
“Obviously I’m really excited but I’m not somebody who is going to get too excited before it happens – I’m going to try and enjoy the rest of this day first. I’m a pretty emotional guy and this means the world to me to be up the top of the leaderboard.
“I’d love to get a win over the line but ultimately I need to learn everything I can moving forwards. I think that’s really important tomorrow – to be open minded enough that whatever the outcome, we’ve got to take new things on board and realise that this might be a position that we might end up in a few more times, maybe this season or the rest of my career so that’s the goal – hit good shots, make good decisions but learn stuff as well.”
Joost Luiten
“I really enjoyed that today, especially in the end. I stiffed it on 16th, a good shot in the end on the 18th. My iron play did not get me into trouble at all today, the only bogey I made was because I missed my driver in the fairway trap and then it becomes difficult. But I am very happy with the way I hit the ball.
“I think you need to watch the leaderboard. If you are behind, you need to attack and if you are in front, you need to attack as well. You need to know what is going on, at least I need to know what is going on. So, I will definitely watch it.
“I had a good round yesterday, so I just stuck to that strategy – just hit the fairways and attack from there. If you get out of position on this golf course, it becomes very hard, so you need to stay in position.
“I took quite a tight line off the tee at the 18th and hit a perfect drive. It was just 115m (126yds) from there. It was a nice wedge for me and I could just go at the flag. Left it eight feet short and rolled in the putt…easy!”
Julien Guerrier
“The players out here on the European Tour are really good so you have to push forward always and if it’s your week, it’s your week. Right now, it’s going well for me so we’ll see.
“I have to do the same tomorrow. I want to work in these conditions, under pressure, to see how I feel. I’ve played a lot of years on the Challenge Tour and I’ve played a couple of years on the European Tour too and I want to stay here now!
“My game was not perfect like the first two days. The first two days my game was really solid but my putting was not really good, but today my game was okay and I putted fantastically so that’s what made the difference.”
Chris Wood
“I would have been very happy to have finished four-four, but there were tricky pins out there so I felt like I was ahead of the game as I was going along. To get in on 13 under leading would have been great but it’s fine, I’m one behind.
“In a way the pressure so on the leaders overnight. I’m one behind, right in the mix – that’s nothing over 18 holes so I’m pretty happy with where I am.
“The flags were trickier today and you needed to be pretty precise with your irons just to get within ten feet of a lot of them. Then you’re in the semi-rough just off the fairway and the greens are firming up. There’s a lot of grain in these greens too and the banks run away from the hole, you’re left with 40 feet over a couple of slopes which is tough.
“It’s a great course, 12 under is leading so 15 or 16 under might not be far off tomorrow depending on where the pins are. It’s good fun to play because you’ve got to think on every shot and if you get slightly out of position it can punish you.”
par 216 (3x72)
204 J Luiten (Netherlands) 72 66 66, J Guerrier (Fra) 69 69 66, M Southgate (Eng) 65 70 69
205 C Wood (Eng) 70 66 69
206 A Otaegui (Spn) 69 71 66
207 A Levy (Fra) 71 69 67
208 M Pavon (Fra) 68 65 75, A Johnston (Eng) 71 68 69
209 S Gallacher (Sco) 74 67 68, F Zanotti (Paraguay) 68 71 70, R Rock (Eng) 69 71 69, S Han (USA) 70 69 70, J Campillo (Spn) 73 70 66
210 A Björk (Swe) 72 68 70, M Manassero (Ita) 68 71 71
211 N Geyger (Chile) 72 72 67, T Bjørn (Den) 71 73 67, O Farr (Wal) 68 71 72, B Hebert (Fra) 72 70 69, S Brazel (Australia) 68 71 72, A Sullivan (Eng) 67 73 71, E Molinari (Ita) 73 71 67
212 J Smith (Eng) 68 72 72, G Bourdy (Fra) 72 68 72, A Rai (Eng) 71 70 71, M Kinhult (Swe) 69 69 74, S Fernandez (Spn) 72 70 70, J Winther (Denmark) 70 71 71, D Drysdale (Sco) 72 70 70, A Pavan (Ita) 70 72 70
213 L Slattery (Eng) 72 67 74, T Pulkkanen (Finland) 74 68 71, M Kieffer (Ger) 70 72 71, D Huizing (Netherlands) 66 71 76, R Sterne (SAf) 72 70 71, C Syme (Sco) 70 71 72, C Ford (Eng) 69 74 70
214 R Jacquelin (Fra) 69 74 71, J Dantorp (Swe) 71 72 71, M Ilonen (Finland) 73 71 70, C Shinkwin (Eng) 67 74 73, T Jaidee (Thailand) 72 71 71, D Kataoka (Jpn) 69 74 71, H Porteous (SAf) 72 72 70
215 T Detry (Belgium) 72 69 74, C Sordet (Fra) 74 70 71, S Lee (SKor) 69 74 72, C Bezuidenhout (SAf) 70 74 71
216 J Wang (SKor) 73 69 74, E Pepperell (Eng) 71 71 74, P Lawrie (Sco) 71 73 72, D Im (USA) 75 69 72, P Larrazábal (Spn) 73 71 72, N Bertasio (Ita) 70 72 74, M Wallace (Eng) 69 72 75, R Evans (Eng) 72 71 73
217 Z Lombard (SAf) 72 70 75, O Fisher (Eng) 73 70 74, S Hend (Australia) 71 71 75, P Waring (Eng) 65 71 81, D Clarke (NIre) 72 67 78
218 S Chawrasia (India) 73 69 76, P Khongwatmai (Thailand) 70 69 79, J Thomson (Eng) 71 72 75
221 P Angles (Spn) 73 71 77, M Warren (Sco) 69 72 80, R McEvoy (Eng) 72 71 78
222 B Neil (Sco) 74 69 79, G Green (Mas) 72 71 79



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