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8 September 2007

Dredge determined to defend his title


Crans-Montana, Switzerland, 8 September - Welshman Bradley Dredge boosted his bid for back-to-back Omega European Masters victories by moving into a share of the third-round lead with Australia's Brett Rumford. The duo finished on 13 under par 200, a stroke better than the leader for the first two rounds, Oliver Wilson of England. Rumford shot a five under par 66 while Dredge had a 68.


Rumford and Wilson stayed in contention despite both suffering with sore necks. The Englishman was almost forced to pull out before starting his round after his neck went into spasm as he got up. An hour's treatment on the Red Bull Physio Truck loosened the problem enough for him to be able to play but it was a battle all day as he posted a one under par 70.


Triple European Tour winner Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño of Spain finished on 202, 11 under par, after a 65 alongside another Welshman Sion Bebb, who shot a sensational eight under par 63, the low round of the week.


The joint leaders are both seeking third European Tour titles, with Dredge seeking a rare double after coming through a poor run of mid-season form. The Welshman eagled the first after an approach to seven feet but a double-bogey at the 12th cost him the outright lead.


"I felt my 68 was a bit mediocre and I made some bad errors," Dredge said. "But I've not been playing well for the last month or so. You have to turn your form around sometime, though, and hopefully that's now."


Rumford went straight to the Red Bull Physio Truck for treatment on his neck after his round.

"It's a pinched nerve," he said. "I had to take painkillers on the 16th tee. It was getting so bad and giving me a real headache. But after treatment it is fine and it is not an issue for tomorrow."


Wilson struggled on the front nine particularly before the Englishman recovered to post a 70. "It was horrible as it really deflated me," said Wilson. "I was really excited about today and had a chance to build a bit of a lead, press on and separate from the field. But I couldn't move this morning."


Bebb, lying 209th on The European Tour Order of Merit, fired a 63, one stroke off the course record and the best round of the week. His card included 11 threes and put him in contention as he tries to retain his European Tour card and avoid a 12th visit to the Qualifying School. "This might be my last event with my ranking," said Bebb. "I didn't feel any pressure and just went out to play.


"Two weeks ago I was debating going back to the Qualifying School with the travel, struggling and leaving the wife and kids at home and money is tight. Money is very tight and you are looking at another three or four thousand pounds if you go through the stages. But a good week last week helped the finances and the game so if I have to go I will. I won €19,000 last week when I was at the point of no return and that will keep me going for another couple of months."


Lee Westwood found the water hazard at the last before chipping in for a bogey and a 65 that left the former European No1 three strokes off the lead alongside fellow Englishman Phillip Archer, who shot a 68. Westwood, another former winner here, will be one of the favourites going into the final round. (