Date: April 06, 2008

Bourdy blitzes in Portugal

France&aposs Gregory Bourdy has taken a commanding four-stroke lead into the final round of the Portuguese Open at Oitavos Dunes Sunday. But Scot Alastair Forsyth, his closest challenger, does not need much of a memory for proof that anything can yet happen. Just two weeks ago the 32-year-old from Glasgow was five behind South African Hennie Otto with a mere 18 holes to play in Madeira and won in a play-off. “Of course that helps – you know it can be done,” said Forsyth, 13 under par after a six-birdie 66. “There have been a lot of 63s and 64s going around this week and somebody could come from nowhere.” Bourdy, round in 68 after being two in front at halfway, is seeking the second European Tour victory of his career after winning in Majorca last October. It would also be a second French win in a row on the circuit following Thomas Levet&aposs triumph in Spain last Sunday. Bourdy was among those who showered him in champagne after he beat England&aposs Oliver Fisher in a play-off. In joint fourth place on 12 under are England&aposs Miles Tunnicliff and South African Charl Schwartzel, the reigning Spanish Open champion. Tunnicliff, three months away from his 40th birthday and twice a winner on tour, shot up from 40th at halfway by becoming the fifth player this week to achieve the new course record of 63. It also matched the lowest round of his career and the Marbella-based golfer said: “It would be big to win again, especially coming up to 40. It&aposs been a long time.” His last success was at Gleneagles in Scotland four years ago. Among those one further back in a share of fifth spot and needing to go really low in the closing round are 18-year-old Rory McIlroy and Ryder Cup star David Howell. McIlroy&aposs 66 equalled the lowest round of his short tour career, but he said: “The scoring has been really low and I might need to go lower than 63 (to win).” “But I&aposve shot 61 before – back in my heyday when I was good!” That was at Royal Portrush during his amateur days. Howell has been through such a nightmare time that 11 under par is a position he has not known for over 18 months. He is down to 247th in the world and has failed to qualify for next month&aposs Masters. Ryder Cup team-mates Paul McGinley and Darren Clarke, also missing out on Augusta, stand nine under and six under respectively. Howell, who has taken on a new coach this week, said: “It&aposs never easy jumping back into the mix, but I have the experience and the best thing is that physically I&aposve felt great all this year.” Spain&aposs defending champion Pablo Martin, who last year became the first amateur to win on the tour, is seven behind, as is Levet after he double-bogeyed the last. Fisher&aposs hopes of making amends for last week&aposs near-miss almost certainly ended when he double-bogeyed the 14th and 15th, both par threes, and dropped another on the last for a 74 and six under aggregate. New Zealander Gareth Paddison is eight shots adrift on nine under and Aussie Matthew Millar is well out of contention on two under and 15 shots off the pace. Third Round of the Portugal Open (Par 71): -17: Gregory Bourdy 63 65 68 -13: Alastair Forsyth 65 69 66 -12: Charl Schwartzel 65 70 66, Miles Tunnicliff 69 69 63 -11: Gonzalo Fdez-Castano 64 66 72, David Howell 67 68 67, Soren Kjeldsen 69 65 68, Rory McIlroy 69 67 66, Lee Slattery 66 68 68 -10: Simon Dyson 67 66 70, Thomas Levet 67 64 72, Pablo Martin 63 71 69, Damien McGrane 67 69 67, Steve Webster 67 66 70 -9: David Drysdale 71 67 66, Mikko Ilonen 68 70 66, Simon Khan 65 67 72, Jose Manuel Lara 64 70 70, Paul McGinley 69 68 67, Gareth Paddison (New Zealand) 68 68 68 Also: -2:Matthew Millar (Australia) 68 69 74