Sep 22nd, 2019
BMW PGA Championship Day 3
Willett and Rahm still lead the way
Words: GolfPunk Photography: Getty Images
It was as you were at Wentworth as both overnight leaders shot four-under-par rounds of 68 to extend their lead to three shot over the field. Chasing them are Englishman Justin Rose, South African Christiaan Bezuidenhout, who both carded 69, and India’s Shubhankar Sharma who had one of the round of the day, a six-under 66.
It was nip and tuck between the leaders for most of the round until Willett took bogey at the 15th and Rahm birdied the 16th to take a two-shot lead. The big Spaniard was looking invincible but then went in to melt down over the final two holes.
Rahm inexplicable took three putts from ten feet at the 17th and then fired his drive at the 18th way left into a hedge that lined the course. A two-clubs length penalty drop only just got the Spaniard clear of the foliage and he could only hack out back on to the fairway. However, Rahm’s putter, which had run hot all day, came to his rescue as he holed from some fifteen feet for one of the most unlikely pars of the day.
Willett took advantage of Rahm’s slip ups to peg back the leader, parring the 17th and then getting up and down at the last from a greenside bunker for birdie. Willett had made a couple of impressive escapes himself during his round. Wild drives at both the 8th and 15th looked like a big number was in the offing but the Yorkshireman somehow conjured up a par and a bogey at those two holes.
Rahm is probably still favourite going into Sunday and was philosophical after his round:
“I was happy I made par on 18. It's a nice finish that way. Besides basically the last seven strokes, the rest of the round was almost bulletproof. I played really good golf. I had a good plan going in and if I had finished properly with even two pars, I would have a one-shot lead.”
It was another beautiful day at the Surrey course which was in immaculate condition. The crowds were out in force again and Rory McIlroy, who scraped in on the cut line, was there to entertain in the morning. The Northern Irishman was back in form with the round of the day, a seven-under-par 67.
McIlroy will be ruing his opening 76 as barring some sort of meltdown at the top of the leaderboard he has no chance of catching the leaders on Sunday.
“It’s amazing, I only took two weeks off but it felt like I had not played golf in years on Thursday,” McIlroy said after his round.
Maybe it was the lay-off but the world number two still has the propensity to throw in a shocking round from time to time, something he surely must work on if he is to increase his tally in the majors.
Story of the day was provided by local boy Ross Fisher who grew up playing at Wentworth. The Englishman already had a pretty extraordinary back nine going on following an error strewn front nine of 37. As Fisher struck a four iron in to the 18th he was five under for the back nine, a few seconds later make that eight under. The ball landed just over the water, some twenty feet short of the hole, hopped slightly right and rolled into the cup for an albatross.
Sitting perched up among the huge grandstand was Fisher’s prize for this feat, one £133,000 BMW mean machine. No wonder Fisher was smiling as he had actually thought he’d hit a bad shot.
“I thought I’d pulled it, so I looked away,” Fisher said. “But the crowd’s reaction told a different story.” .
The weather is not looking that great for the final day with rain expected for most of the day and the wind will be gusting. It makes for a classic finale with those a little way back thinking that they may still have a chance.
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And another thing...