Date: November 26, 2005

Allenby in Doubt after Hand Problem Flares

A toilet break almost spelt the end of Robert Allenby&aposs MFS Australian Open campaign today. The Victorian&aposs hand ailment caused him to call for urgent physiotherapy on the 17th tee while he was leading near the end of the third round at Moonah Links by four shots. Allenby, who is chasing his second Open title after winning in 1994, has been battling a hand problem all year, but the injury flared at the 16th. He fired an even par 72 to be nine under the card going into tomorrow&aposs final round five ahead of Paul Sheehan but not before a late round moment of drama. “There was a little bit of a mishap on 16 when I hurt my hand,” Allenby said. “I was very, very lucky even to play the last three holes. The nerve went in my middle finger and I just had nothing there. “I went to the toilet and I could hear people coming up behind me so I went to close the latch on the door and I reached behind me and twisted my arm and turned the latch and it just triggered the nerve off. “That&aposs why I had to wait to hit my second shot on 16.” Despite the pain Allenby, who received treatment from Paul Trainor, managed to par 16 and 17 and then made an astonishing birdie on 18. “I was totally surprised the way I hit a four iron into 16. I went from five iron back to four iron because I thought, there&aposs no way I can get five iron there now because I had nothing in my right hand,” Allenby said. “And 17 was a four iron, possibly three iron but I thought the easiest club I could possibly hit was a five wood…at impact my right hand virtually fell off the club. “I allowed for a pull and it was perfect and then I did the same on 18 off the tee and then I did the same on the second shot and then on the chip I pretty much just dropped it on top of it and just squeezed it in there. “I&aposm blown away that I hit such a good chip.” Allenby went immediately to get intensive treatment and planned to ice his finger tonight. He said he would not guarantee 100 per cent playing tomorrow but said it would be a “huge” call to pull out. “I&aposve always said I&aposd play this tournament with a broken leg,” he said. “I just hope that I can get it right by tomorrow before I tee off. “I know I can win tomorrow, I&aposve just got to be healthy,” he said. Allenby said there was “no way” he could play 18 holes with his hand the way it was this evening. “Hopefully I will hit all the fairways tomorrow because I can&apost afford to be in any of the rough and have a bad lie.” West Australian Nick O&aposHern, former dual champion Aaron Baddeley and Queenslander Rod Pampling are one shot behind Sheehan at three under the card while World No.8 Adam Scott struggled in the wind, firing a 77 to be level with the card. by Robert Grant