Steve Webster of England plays a shot during the third round of the Qatar Masters at the Doha Golf Club yesterday.
Adrien Saddier of France acknowledges the fans during round three of the Qatar Masters in Doha yesterday. LEFT: Rafa Cabrera-Bello of Spain watches his shot.
BY RIZWAN REHMAT
DOHA: Steve Webster yesterday stuttered with a couple of bogeys but still caught up with overnight leader Rafa Cabrera-Bello of Spain in round three of the $2.5m Qatar Masters.
The Englishman yesterday carded two under par 70 to join Cabrera-Bello who misfired with a sluggish one over par 73 as the two finished the day with an identical overall score of 12 under par 204.
South Africa’s Thomas Aiken, Finland’s Thorbjorn Olesen and France’s Adrien Saddier - who enjoyed a birdie blitz - ended a battling day with overall card of 11 under par 205.
Two-time Qatar champion Paul Lawrie Scotland fired four birdies to join four others at 10 under par 206.
Lawrie is tied for third place with Finland’s Johan Carlsson, South Africa’s George Coetzee, Finland’s Mikko Ilonen and Paraguay’s Fabrizio Zanotti.
Title favourite Seregio Garcia of Spain (three under par 72) was bunched together with four others to sit joint fifth at 9 under par 207 at Doha Golf Course (DGC).
The highlight of Garcia’s 69 was an eagle from 40 feet on the 10th hole while Lawrie - who won here in 1999 ahead of his Open Championship triumph at Carnoustie and again in 2012 - carded a 69 thanks largely to three birdies in four holes
Caberera-Bello - who carded seven under par 65 on Thursday - yesterday lost form with three bogeys but still held on to the top spot with Webster.
Webster, who fired a stunning albatross on day one, slipped with a couple of bogeys but recovered with four birdies to join the 29-year-old Spaniard at the top of the leaderboard at DGC.
In a stunning display of calm putting, Frenchman Saddier reeled off eight birdies to card 8 under par 64 to join Aiken and Olesen in joint second, just one shot behind the leaders.
The World Number 720 - in just his fourth European Tour event as a professional - was delighted with his day at DGC.
“Yeah, it was a great round,” Saddier said. I played very well. I made some great putts. I started very slow. I was 6‑under after seven. It was very great. I’m very happy,” he added.
“It was a great round, I’m very happy. I’m from the Q‑School so I need to make some good results, so it’s great to make 64 today,” Saddier said.
Joint leader Webster was irked with his ‘slow start’ during which he bogeyed twice yesterday.
“That wasn’t pretty,” Webster said. “It was bad enough playing it. I don’t know what happened first, I hit it really good on the range and I think I got a bit cocky on the course and hit so many bad shots the first, well, six, seven holes, and I just ‑‑ I don’t know, really,” the Englishman said.
Webster was six shots off the pace after his sluggish start but picked up shots on the seventh, 11th, 14th and 15th to boost his chances of a third European Tour title.
“And hit a really good putt on 11 and thought it feels a little bit better now. But the first six holes, it was like I never played golf before,” he added.
“On the back nine I gave myself a few chances and I knocked in a really good putt on 11 which made things feel a little better,” the 38-year-old added.
Cabrera-Bello wasn’t impressed with his performance either, carding one over par 73 following a stunning 7 under the day before.
“It’s definitely been tougher today. The wind has picked up,” Cabrera-Bello explained. “It’s made everything a bit more difficult.
“Overall, I didn’t think I played that bad. I’m a little bit disappointed for not having to keep a couple shots ahead of the pack like I started the day. I felt I had a moment that I could have if I maybe would have sunk the putt at the 12th for birdie, but I played didn’t.
“On the back nine, (I) didn’t quite make the birdie putts as I did yesterday, but overall, I couldn’t have won it today. It would have been obviously nicer to be a few shots ahead from everybody tomorrow but it hasn’t worked out that way. I’m still on top of the leaderboard and still people need to try to catch me,” the Spaniard added. Olesen - who is tied with Saddier and Aiken in third spot - was a relieved man yesterday.
“I haven’t been up there in while, so it’s nice to be there now. I played really well last week and this week. Holed a lot of putts and that makes it easier and from tee‑to‑green, I’ve been good,” Olesen said.
“(In) Abu Dhabi, I played good all four days but didn’t really get anything out
“It’s really nice to be in this position. I think this course, needs to be a little bit windy and when you’re playing well, it makes it okay to play. I enjoy it and hopefully we get a bit of breeze tomorrow,” he added.
Meanwhile, American John Daly, who was in the mix for his first title in 10 years with an eight-under 136 on Thursday, blew his chance with a five over 77 yesterday.
Daly had admitted that he found DGC course difficult, with a string of six bogeys yesterday proving his point as he found himself tied for 44th position with an aggregate of three-under 213.