Date: May 03, 2009
Author: PA Sport and Sportal

Levet well-placed in Spain

France&aposs Thomas Levet has a two-stroke lead going into the final round of the Spanish Open in Girona. But if he fails to lift the title, 35-year-old European Tour rookie Stuart Davis could be the man to take advantage. While Levet stayed out in front with a one-under-par 71 to lie 14 under, Englishman Davis improved from sixth to second with a superb 67 which included four birdies in the last seven holes in the windy conditions. Among the players he overtook was Dubliner Peter Lawrie, trying to become the first man to make a successful defence of the trophy since Max Faulkner in 1953. Lawrie bogeyed the last for a 71 and 11-under total, but needs only to think back 12 months to believe he can still do it. He came from five adrift to beat Spaniard Ignacio Garrido in a play-off in Seville. An industrial chemist in Derby for seven years after he left university, Davis reckons he might never have turned professional if his company had not been taken over. “I&aposm one of the oldest rookies out here,” said the man who made eight trips to the Tour qualifying school and failed every time. Most harrowing of all was two years ago when he needed a par on the 108th and final hole to earn a card and made a triple-bogey seven. Davis switched to the Challenge Tour instead and grabbed the 20th and last place by little more than 200 pounds ($AU 400). “It feels quite strange when people refer to me as a rookie,” he added. “I feel anything but.” “I don&apost want to think about winning. It would mean the world to me.” Levet was four clear at one point but bogeyed the short 16th as Davis made his charge. The 40-year-old from Paris, runner-up to Ernie Els in the 2002 Open and part of Europe&aposs winning Ryder Cup team in Detroit two years later, had been two ahead of Dane Soren Hansen at halfway. Hansen shot 76 after running up a triple-bogey seven on the 9th and Levet said: “We had a rough day. Every time I got it going I made a stupid mistake like three-putting.” “I could have gone two or three shots more ahead, but some guys went way over par so I am pretty happy.” “Everything is to be done tomorrow and I know I can play better.” Lawrie commented: “It was a bit of a struggle. The pin placings were very tough and my putter let me down a few times, but 71 is not bad.” “I am in a good position and it would be wonderful to win again. Any tournament anywhere is more than rewarding.” Welshman Stephen Dodd and Paraguay&aposs Fabrizio Zanotti are in joint fourth place on nine-under. American John Daly is down on level par, two double bogeys on the back nine taking him to a 74. Daly, playing his first event since December and still serving a six-month US Tour ban imposed after he was put in jail to sober up last October, said: “First an eight-iron plugged under the lip of a bunker on the 11th and in trying to get it out the ball popped up and buried again.” “Then on 15, I flushed a five-iron from the rough, but it caught a tree.” “Other than that it was pretty damn good. I love the way I am swinging, I&aposm hitting it solid and I&aposve made only three bad swings, which is good coming back.” “I&aposm just not making any putts and I&aposve got to get that sorted out.” Daly, down at 788th in the world, is in Europe for the next month. Matthew Millar, the Australian left, is well out of contention on one-under and 13 strokes off the pace. Third Round of the Open de Espana -14: Thomas Levet 64 67 71 -12: Stuart Davis 72 65 67 -11: Peter Lawrie 68 66 71 -9: Stephen Dodd 69 69 69, Fabrizio Zanotti 71 70 66 -8: Thomas Bjorn 70 67 71 -7: Paul Broadhurst 70 69 70, Niclas Fasth 75 69 65, Soren Hansen 63 70 76, Jose Manuel Lara 65 73 71, Francesco Molinari 69 70 70, Charl Schwartzel 67 73 69, Marcel Siem 67 70 72 -6: Alejandro Canizares 67 69 74, Paul McGinley 70 67 73, Jarmo Sandelin 66 75 69, Juan Francisco Sarasti 73 69 68 Also: -1: Matthew Millar (Australia) 69 75 71