Saturday, April 28, 2012


Austrian Bernd Wiesberger has given himself the best possible chance of his maiden European Tour triumph to date, by opening up a five shot lead after the third round of the Ballantine’s Championship in South Korea.
On a beautiful day at Blackstone Golf Club in Icheon, the 26 year old from Vienna – who began the day with a one-shot cushion – took full advantage of the ideal scoring conditions to stamp his authority on the tournament with a master-class in front running.
Birdies at the fourth and sixth were followed by five more in a stunning inward half of 31 which gave him his second consecutive bogey free 65, a 14 under par total of 202, and a healthy advantage over his nearest challenger Marcus Fraser of Australia, who posted a respectable 69 for the nine under par mark of 207.
England’s Oliver Fisher and Felipe Aguilar of Chile share third on eight under par 208 while European Ryder Cup veterans Miguel Angel Jiménez of Spain and Paul McGinley of Ireland share fifth on seven under par 209 but, like the rest of the field, they were mere support acts to the main Wiesberger feature.
 “I think that's what they call a great day at the office,” he said. “It was fun out there. It was nice conditions again like yesterday, and the course was really well set up. I enjoyed myself, I made a lot of putts and that was the key to the day. Perfect. 
 “I don't know if I've ever carded two bogey‑free 65s in a row so that was great as well. On the greens, I really felt like I saw the lines perfectly and even though I didn't hit it as close as I wished on some occasions, I felt that I could make birdies from anywhere.”
Last season Wiesberger – who won twice on the Challenge Tour in 2010 – finished second twice on The European Tour which helped him end the year in 64th place in The Race to Dubai – the highest ranking of his European Tour career.
“I think The Challenge Tour experience will help me tomorrow but I’ve never gone into a final round with a five shot lead as I came from behind in Lyon and two shots was the lead going into the final round in Toulouse,” he said.
“Anyways, it feels like I'm getting into position more often, and I played well when I was in those positions in the last half of last year. The last two years have been a good preparation so I hope they pay off tomorrow.
Can he be caught? Anyone who studies this game knows anything is possible in golf, but the feelings of second placed Fraser summed up the mood of many around the Blackstone resort.
“I’ve said for a while that Bernd is one of the rising stars of European golf and I think he showed that today with the way he played,” said the Australian. “Of course I will be trying my hardest to catch him but if I was a betting man and he plays tomorrow the way he played today, I’d bet my house on him.”
Third placed Aguilar, who had six birdies and only two dropped shots in a tidy third round 68 had an even more dramatic, although tongue-in-cheek method of stopping the young Austrian maestro.
 “Perhaps we could sneak up behind him and break one of his legs!” joked the winner of the 2008 Indonesia Open on The European Tour. “Seriously though, he is playing very well and deserves his lead but, like the rest of the guys, I’ll be doing everything I possibly can to stop him picking up the trophy tomorrow night.”
Alongside Aguilar, Fisher – who claimed his own maiden European Tour title in the 2011 Czech Open – finished strongly with four birdies in the last six holes to post a third round 67 and keep alive his title dreams.
“I was pretty solid today,” said the 23 year old Englishman. “This is one of those courses where, if the wind is nowhere near as strong as yesterday or the day before, you feel like you can give yourself a lot of chances. 
“I managed to make a few coming in on the back nine and I'm hitting the ball well and I’m happy with how I'm playing. Bernd is obviously going pretty low out there but I hope I have a good day tomorrow.”
Jointly seven shots adrift of Wiesberger going into the final round, both Jiménez and McGinley face an uphill battle to claim the title and the €367,500 first prize but two of the most determined competitors on The European Tour over the last two decades will give it their best shot.
McGinley, a 2010 Ryder Cup Vice-Captain who is returning to full fitness following a knee operation, was in the first group out on the first tee in the third round but wasted little time in making an impression with his own stunning 65.
“The start of my round set me up beautifully,” he said. “To birdie five of the first six holes is a dream start. I don't think I've ever started a round like that before. To keep making birdies the way I did was great. That set me up nicely and I played solid. “This tournament has been good to me over the years. I enjoyed this golf course last year and that was one of the reasons why I made an effort to come out to it again this year. It's a really good course and one that suits my game.”
Jiménez added a third round 69 to his opening efforts of 72 and 68 to keep himself on the fringes of contention. “I played well from tee to green today but didn’t hole enough putts,” he revealed. “You can’t make 32 putts in a round and expect to be right in contention so I’ll have to improve on that tomorrow if I’m to have a chance.”

202 Bernd Weisberger (Austria) 72 68 65
207 Marcus Fraser (Australia) 71 67 69.
208 Oliver Fisher (England) 71 70 67, Felipe Aguilar (Chile) 71 69 68
209 Paul McGinley (Ireland) 71 83 75, Miguel Angel Jimenez (Spain) 72 68 69.
210 Richie Ramsay 70 72 68 (T7)
217 Scott Jamieson 76 68 73, Marc Warren 76 72 69 (T50)
221 Peter Whiteford 71 74 76 (T68)





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