Spaniard Miguel Angel Jiménez overcame the frustration of an unnecessary penalty shot to take a three stroke lead into the final round of the Omega European Masters in Switzerland. Jiménez, attempting to win the title at Crans-sur-Sierre at the 22nd attempt and at the venerable age of 46, picked up his ball close to a sprinkler head at the tenth hole and incurred a one shot penalty. But for that moment of madness, the Spaniard would have held a four stroke lead.
In the circumstances, Jiménez signed for a round of 68, the same score as his nearest rival, Edoardo Molinari of Italy. Jiménez goes into the final day on a 17 under par total of 196, three in front of fellow Ryder Cup team-mate Molinari and four ahead of teenager Matteo Manassero of Italy and England’s Steve Webster.
"It's a pity," said Jimenez, thinking back to the incident at the tenth."I lost my head for a moment – something I have never done in my career. I should have checked to see if the sprinkler head close to where my ball landed was interfering with my stance before picking up the ball and marking it with a tee.
“I thought ‘what am I doing’? The sprinkler was not a problem so I told Edoardo what I had done and replaced the ball exactly where it had been.
"But I'm still feeling good. It's very difficult to follow up a really low score. Now there are 18 holes to go and I would love to win this title and collect my third win of the season.”
The Malaga golfer, making his 22nd successive trip to the Alpine resort, birdied four of the first eight holes.
But after the blunder on the tenth he also bogeyed the 12th and 14th before hitting back with birdies on the par five next and the 402 yard last, where he sank a 20 footer.
Molinari is hoping to make it back-to-back wins before he takes three weeks off to rest and then prepare for his Ryder Cup debut alongside his brother Francesco.
He hit his tee shot on the driveable par four seventh to within six feet of the flag.
He missed the eagle putt, birdied the next two as well to be out in 32 like Jiménez, but his only deviation from par on the way home was a four at the short 13th - his only bogey of the tournament so far.
“On the front nine, I played great, didn't miss a fairway or a green,” he said. “I had a great putt on seven for eagle which didn't go in. Front nine was flawless golf but on the back, especially after making bogey on 13, I felt tired all of the sudden.
“I wasn't playing well and I was lucky to make some pars.”
One shot further back in joint third are his 17 year old compatriot Matteo Manassero and England's Steve Webster.
But a 69 kept alive his hopes of becoming The European Tour's youngest-ever champion, while Webster moved into the picture with a superb 64 highlighted by an eagle on the 15th and a birdie two at the 16th.
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