Date: January 18, 2009
Author: Sportal and PA Sport

Green stumbles in Abu Dhabi

Australian Richard Green has crashed out of contention at the Abu Dhabi Championships after a disastrous third round on Saturday. The joint halfway leader shot a four-over-par 76 to plummet down the leaderboard to a share of 28th place. Brett Rumford is now the best placed Australian at 10-under par, nine shots behind leader Paul Casey. Robert Allenby shot a solid three-under 69 to move up to a tie for 20th. Maybe Paul Casey should have low expectations more often. The 31-year-old Ryder Cup star followed a 65 with a dazzling 63 – one outside the course record – today and leads by four going into the final round of the Abu Dhabi Championship. “I&aposm not putting pressure on myself because it&aposs early in the season,” said Casey, who has to go all the way back to the same event two years ago for his last victory. No fewer than 15 top 10 finishes have come since then, but the former World Match Play champion decided to stay at home and work hard on his game last month rather than go on honeymoon. It is paying immediate dividends. At 19-under par Casey is already two better than his winning mark in 2007, but he will be aware that his closest challenger now, German Martin Kaymer, is the man who lifted the trophy last year. That was the 24-year-old German&aposs maiden European Tour success and he came close to securing a Ryder Cup debut on the back of it. Kaymer knocked four strokes off his two opening 68s, but still found that it left him further behind as Casey grabbed four birdies on the front nine, three more in the next four holes and then closed with two more. The one on the long 10th was a complete bonus. Casey drove under a tree, but sank a 40-foot putt. “That was the turning point, I think,” he added. “On the second shot I didn&apost know where the ball was going to go and I didn&apost know whether I would break my club.” He had not been too happy with his ball-striking on Friday despite the score, but chose not to practise and, having complained of jetlag after coming to the event from his base in Arizona, his body clock finally seemed to have adjusted itself. “Something clicked,” he said. “A good night&aposs sleep seemed to cure the ball-striking ills. That was a lot of fun – I have not had a 63 in a long time.” On the European Tour his last was three years ago and he has only once shot better. “I just really like this course. I have fun when I&aposm walking round.” Joint halfway leader Graeme Storm slipped to third on 14-under with a 69. Alongside Green on seven-under is Colin Montgomerie. The Scot&aposs 70 was not what he was hoping for, but possibly he has other things on his mind – although there is still no official confirmation, he is on the verge it seems of becoming Ryder Cup captain. That is a change of heart after declaring he wanted to regain his place on the team at Celtic Manor, but he will be 51 by the time the match returns to Scottish soil in 2014 and it appears to have been agreed by the tournament committee, of which he is a member, that the captain should be someone in touch with the younger players. Nick Faldo was 50 when he did the job last September and both Sandy Lyle and Ian Woosnam, both of whom expressed an interest in 2010, would be 52. As for Jose Maria Olazabal, Faldo&aposs vice-captain and viewed as the favourite for Celtic Manor, he is three years younger than Montgomerie at 42 and looks odds-on for Chicago in three years&apos time. Open and US PGA champion Padraig Harrington had hoped his 68 for 11-under would leave him with a chance, but although he is in a tie for eighth now eight strokes to make up on a Ryder Cup teammate is surely too much. World No.2 Sergio Garcia shot 67, but is 11 shots back in 20th spot and Masters champion Trevor Immelman trails by a massive 15 after a 71. Third Round of the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship -19: Paul Casey 69 65 63 -15: Martin Kaymer 68 68 65 -14: Graeme Storm 69 64 69 -13: Anthony Wall 67 67 69 -12: Johan Edfors 66 69 69, Peter Hanson 67 71 66, Louis Oosthuizen 67 69 68 -11: Oliver Fisher 67 69 69, Stephen Gallacher 74 66 65, Padraig Harrington 71 66 68, Danny Willett 71 66 68 -10: Rafael Cabrera Bello 68 69 69, Bradley Dredge 71 69 66, Pelle Edberg 72 67 67, Anders Hansen 70 67 69, Rory McIlroy 66 69 71, Brett Rumford (Australia) 68 67 71 -9: Mark Foster 70 69 68, Francesco Molinari 67 69 71 Also: -8: Robert Allenby (Australia) 71 68 69 -7: Richard Green (Australia) 68 65 76 -5: Mark Brown (New Zealand) 72 69 70, Danny Lee (AM) (New Zealand) 68 70 73, Scott Strange (Australia) 73 66 72 -3: Rod Pampling (Australia) 70 72 71 E: Aaron Baddeley (Australia) 72 71 73