Mon, Jul 09, 2007 - Page 19 News List

Hansen climbs to top of European Open leaderboard

AFP, KILDARE, Ireland

Soren Hansen reacts after carding a birdie in The European Open in Straffan, Ireland, on Saturday.

Photo: AP

Soren Hansen climbed to the top of the European Open leaderboard after a tournament best 63 in the third round on Saturday.

That inspired round left the Dane with a 10-under par total of 200, two shots clear of Robert Rock who hit a four under 66.

Peter O'Malley also shot a tournament best 63 to put him into joint third with Peter Hanson, Niclas Fasth and Gregory Havret.

Pelle Edberg looked like continuing the form that made him the surprise outright leader overnight with three birdies but he ran into par 3 trouble recording double bogey, double bogey, bogey on the short holes on the inward nine, pushing him back to 5 under.

Conversely, Hansen's round accelerated on the back nine.

"The round really only kicked in when I put a string of birdies together at the end when the sun came out," he said after birdies on four of the last five holes.

"I guess the 40-foot putt at the 17th was fortunate but the 12-footer at the last was a good putt," he said.

The expected challenge from a resurgent Colin Montgomerie and tournament favourite Fasth failed to materialise as Monty finished bogey, bogey for a one-over round. It pushed him into a pack on six under that included Ignacio Garrido and Graeme McDowell, who scored four under and five under respectively for the day.

A plainly ill Fasth also failed to improve his Friday night score and was on seven under.

"It was absolutely horrific. I have been dizzy all day and thought I was going to fall over. Then towards the end it got to my stomach as well, so I feel absolutely terrible," said the Swede who said on Friday he was suffering from a heavy cold.

Rock was in better spirits. Like Edberg, a high finish is worth almost as much as victory to the 30-year-old Englishman.

"This is my fifth season and it is not much fun being at the bottom of the Order of Merit. So I will just enjoy the fact that I am in contention and hopefully I will have a chance going into the last few holes tomorrow [yesterday]," Rock said.

McDowell may not have matched Hansen and O'Malley's achievement, but his six-under total put him in striking distance of the leader and outshone the more feted Irishman Padraig Harrington who finished on two under.

Argentina's Ricardo Gonzalez was in the clubhouse one behind McDowell following a bogey-free round of 64. Like McDowell, an eagle on the third set him up well for the round.

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