Date: July 06, 2008

Fisher fires clear of field

A brilliant closing birdie – the only one all day on the 471-yard 18th – took England&aposs Ross Fisher into a three-stroke lead with a round to go in The European Open on Saturday. After battling all day with both Graeme McDowell and 25mph gusts at The London Club, the 27-year-old from Wentworth took full advantage of the Northern Irishman driving into the lake on the last. The hole had wreaked havoc with Colin Montgomerie, Padraig Harrington and Justin Rose among its victims, but Fisher hit a superb drive and then an approach to eight feet. The putt gave him a 69 to add to his course record 63 and Friday 68 for a 54-hole total of 200. Fisher has cleared out from most of the field, including Australian Richard Green who fired a third-round 72 to close two-under-par and 14 shots off the pace. McDowell&aposs bogey meant he signed for a 71 and it still looks as if it might be between the two for first prize. South African David Frost, at 48 years 9 months trying to become the oldest winner in European Tour history, is in third place on 10-under-par following a 69. Joint fourth on eight under are Ireland&aposs Paul McGinley, Dane Soren Hansen and Swede Michael Jonzon. Sergio Garcia, favourite for the title when he played the first six in one under, came home in 39 to be in a tie for seventh. That included a double bogey six on the 13th when he was put off by a photographer on the tee and shanked into knee-high rough. Defending champion Montgomerie came to the last three holes nine under, but bogeyed them all to slide to joint 10th nine strokes back. After a drive into deep rough on the 16th the Scot, runner-up in France last Sunday and so keen to build on that to improve his Ryder Cup chances if nothing more, failed to get up and down from over the green on the short 17th and then pulled his drive into the lake on the last. “I&aposm not the story – I think you&aposll find I&aposm not the story,” he said afterwards, having first of all thrown his ball into a dustbin. A big finish could still make it another good week in his comeback, but Ian Poulter is back in the pack on two under after a 77. The damage was done in a front nine 41 that began with him suddenly remembering he had not bandaged the wrist he has been protecting since pulling out of the US Open three weeks ago. A physio came out on the course, but he called it &aposa schoolboy error&apos, adding: “I completely and utterly forgot.” European Open, Round Three (Par 72): -16: Ross Fisher 63 68 69 -13: Graeme McDowell 65 67 71 -10: David Frost 65 72 69 -8: Soren Hansen 69 67 72, Michael Jonzon 69 68 71, Paul McGinley 69 68 71 -7: Stephen Gallacher 70 68 71, Sergio Garcia 71 64 74, Jeev Milkha Singh 68 72 69 -6: Ignacio Garrido 72 71 67, Peter Hanson 68 71 71, Rory McIlroy 67 71 72, Colin Montgomerie 70 67 73 -5: Padraig Harrington 72 70 69, Martin Wiegele 71 68 72 -4: Sion Bebb 74 67 71, James Kingston 69 69 74, Maarten Lafeber 71 71 70, Gary Orr 73 67 72, Robert Rock 68 71 73, Jean Van De Velde 75 67 70 Also: -2: Richard Green (Australia) 73 69 72 -1: Mark Brown (New Zealand) 75 68 72