Date: May 18, 2008

Lee leaves Aussies in wake

Lee Westwood produced one of the greatest finishes to a round in European Tour history at the Irish Open on Saturday and now has his sights firmly set on a 30th professional victory. On an Adare Manor course described by Ryder Cup teammate Paul McGinley as &aposa monster&apos on Thursday, Westwood followed birdies at the 14th, 15th, 16th and 17th with a closing eagle three. Six-under for the last five holes gave the former European No.1 a 64, only one outside Padraig Harrington&aposs course record, and he went into the final round in third place. Westwood, 39th at the start of the day and only 80th after his opening 75, was one behind fellow Englishman Richard Finch and two behind new leader Bradley Dredge, the Welshman who a year ago lost a play-off on the course to Harrington. The 34-year-old from Cardiff finished with a double-bogey seven on that occasion, but this time he closed with a sixth birdie in 10 holes – while playing partner Darren Clarke, two back at the time, crashed to a triple-bogey eight. Dredge, home in 31 like Westwood, returned a 66 for nine-under, while Finch shot 65. In terms of scoring, the only finish that can better Westwood&aposs on the circuit came from Australian Peter O&aposMalley on the final day of the 1992 Scottish Open at Gleneagles. O&aposMalley, meanwhile, leads the Australian charge after a 71 left him locked in a share of 23rd place. He is seven shots off the pace, followed by Richard Green (75) a stroke further away. Scott Strange&aposs second straight 74 put him three-over-par, 12 off the lead. And Matthew Millar rounds out the Australians remaining in the tournament. His round of 79 left him with a three-round total of 225, 18 adrift of Dredge. Westwood was only playing in Ireland because he fell ill three weeks ago and pulled out of the Wachovia Championship in America. “I just went out to enjoy it today – and that was very enjoyable,” he said. “It was great.” “A 64 round here, you have got to class as a pretty good score. I pulled the four-iron at the last, but it was a good putt.” Having already rolled in a 15-foot eagle putt on the seventh in an outward 33, Westwood was cursing when he took six at the long 12th after reaching a greenside bunker in two. “You hate that and frustrating would be a nice word to use,” he added. But two holes later he converted a 10-foot chance, then holed putts from 20 and four feet before chipping in at the 17th and making the 12-footer on the 548-yard last. It made him leader on his own at the time, but Finch then birdied the 15th and 18th to get in on eight-under. Dredge, who received word on the course that Cardiff were losing the FA Cup final, said: “Obviously, I&aposd love to win and not get in any play-off.” “It&aposs always a tough one to swallow when you do that, but I was really pleased today because I was not in a good mood coming off the course yesterday. To drop from seven under to three under was not a very good performance.” Finch, the former English amateur champion from Hull, was involved in a struggle to keep his Tour card at the end of last season, but in December captured the New Zealand Open. “It was just one of those days when everything seemed to fall good for me,” he commented. “I was just trying to get in a position for tomorrow, two or three behind.” Overnight leader Michael Lorenzo-Vera, playing just his 16th Tour event, could manage only a 75, as did his playing partner Marcel Siem, and it was Swede Robert Karlsson, Chile&aposs Felipe Aguilar and 48-year-old South African David Frost who were in joint fourth. Frost, trying to become the oldest ever winner on the tour, fired a 66. Harrington was hoping for better than 70 and gave himself six strokes to make up, while Paul McGinley fell eight back with a 73 and Colin Montgomerie, round in the same score, was down in 36th place on one over. As for 19-year-old Rory McIlroy, his 70 moved him up, but only from 11th to ninth on four under. Third Round of the Irish Open (Par 72): -9: Bradley Dredge 68 73 66 -8: Richard Finch 71 72 65 -7: Lee Westwood 75 70 64 -6: Felipe Aguilar 71 72 67, David Frost 74 70 66, Robert Karlsson 71 70 69 -5: Ross Fisher 74 68 69, Mikko Ilonen 77 66 68 -4: Stephen Gallacher 73 71 68, Gregory Havret 77 70 65, James Lee 69 73 70, James Kingston 75 68 69, Rory McIlroy 70 72 70, Gary Murphy 74 70 68, Alvaro Quiros Garcia 72 72 68, Anthony Wall 72 70 70 -3: Darren Clarke 72 69 72, Padraig Harrington 72 71 70, Pablo Larrazabal 70 70 73, Michael Lorenzo-Vera 68 70 75, Jarmo Sandelin 76 66 71, Alvaro Velasco 69 72 72 Also: -2: Peter O Malley (Australia) 70 73 71 -1: Richard Green (Australia) 66 74 75 +3: Scott Strange (Australia) 71 74 74 +9: Matthew Millar (Australia) 73 73 79