Date: November 29, 2008
Author: Angus Morgan at Huntingdale

Masters evenly poised

The master and his apprentice, Robert Allenby and Michael Sim, have a two-shot break going into the final round of an enthralling 2008 Australian Masters at Huntingdale. Chasing his third Masters title, Allenby landed a rare and precious albatross – only the third on the Australasian Tour in the past 20 years – en route to a five-under 67. But alongside him at 10-under is his third-round playing partner Sim, the 24-year-old former World No.1 amateur who is finally starting to realise his potential after two years disrupted by stress fractures in his lower back. Huntingdale member Ashley Hall sits alone in third place two shots off the pace following his 68 on Saturday, while Rod Pampling (70), Anthony Summers (71) and Englishman Steve Webster (70) are at seven-under. No less than seven players either held the lead outright or shared it during Saturday&aposs round including overnight leader Tim Clark who surrendered 28 places following his disastrous four-over 76. While short on details, Allenby could recollect having scored albatrosses twice before, but never in a setting with so much at stake. While the 35-year-old agreed his 223-metre three-wood second at the par-five seventh will be up there forever as a career highlight, he said it&aposs the big picture that counts. “The most important thing today was just to put myself in position,” Allenby said. “I did a lot of good things out there today so I&aposm pretty happy with my performance.” Sim&aposs day didn&apost start well – he bogeyed one and three and when Allenby&aposs albatross dropped, the West Australian had slipped five behind his playing partner. But Sim worked his way back into it with a hat-trick of birdies at six, seven and eight and began to believe that something special was happening when he dropped a 10-metre putt for eagle at the 555-metre par-five 14th. “I just hit the ball solid today, a lot of fairways, a lot of greens and just gave myself a lot of opportunities,” was Sim&aposs simple summation of his round. The stakes and the pressure will be ramped up when Sim and Allenby pair up again on Sunday for what Sim believes may develop into matchplay. “You&aposve just got to stick to your game plan,” he said. “It&aposs the first time for me in a final group and that&aposs going to be different.” “There&aposs going to be people out there supporting Robert because he&aposs from Victoria and I&aposve just got to stay in the moment, stay within each shot and if it happens, it happens.” Allenby said he was primed and ready for the contest. “They all want to take me on, that&aposs the nature of the beast,” he said. “I think it&aposs awesome that he is playing so well, he will be a great player.” “I&aposm excited for him and looking forward to the challenge that he throws out tomorrow.”