Tyrrell Hatton will head into the final round of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in full control, with a three-shot lead after shooting an impressive 10-under round of 62.
The 24-year-old Englishman is in search of his maiden European Tour victory but greatly improved chances after firing ten birdies and no bogey’s around the Old Course on Saturday, lifting himself to the top of the leaderboard.
Hatton on 17-under par, leads fellow countryman and second round leader, Ross Fisher, by three shots. Fisher is his Hatton’s nearest challenger on 14-under par after performing steadily around Carnoustie to card a round of 69.
Sweedish youngster Joakim Lagergren and South African Richard Sterne making up the chasing pack a further stroke back of Fisher with the German pairing of Martin Kaymer and Florian Fritsch just behind on 12-under.
Both Lagergren and Sterne have given spectators something to shout about, with both players shooting all three rounds in the sixties.
Sterne had one of the rounds of the day going, before getting upstaged by Hatton, after making birdie on four of his opening seven holes on his way to carding a 7-under round 65. Lagergren is also in tied third with Sterne after battling back from two bogey’s and one double bogey to shoot a 3-under round of 69.
Hatton looked to be on for a record-breaking round of 59 after he reached the turn in 30, making six birdies out of nine holes on the front nine.
A birdie on the 10th hole brought Ross Fisher back into a share of the lead but with the young Englishman making three birdies in a row, over the 8th, 9th, and 10th holes, the birdie on the 10th took the youngster to 7-under par for the day and the sole lead.
Safe play over the next three holes and three straight pars, saw the hopes of Hatton breaking 60 out of sight, but his eyes were not on the course record, but instead maintaining his place on top of the leaderboard.
The outright lead was claimed again by Hatton on the 14th after getting his approach a mere eight feet from the pin and making it an easy tap-in for birdie.
If there was any doubt that the Englishman struggled under pressure it was quickly hidden away after he drained a rare putt for a three on the difficult 17th hole. On the last, the stage was Hatton’s and he did not disappoint, nearly holing out his approach Hatton made a birdie set the lead at 17-under par.
“It’s quite clearly the best round I’ve ever had. I’ve never actually got to double digits before, either, so very pleased with that.”
“Obviously I’d love to get a win. I’ll try my best tomorrow. It’s been a really consistent year and it would be nice to have a good finish to the year.”
Fisher did just enough to force his way into Sunday’s final pairing with Hatton, making the turn in 35 after making two birdies and one bogey. Birdies at the 12th, 13th, and 15th showed Fisher’s resilience but a dropped shot on the 16th proved just how hard Carnoustie is – with it being the hardest of the three courses.
After his 3-under round of 69 Fisher commented:
“It was decent. You never know what you’re going to get when you turn up here. We were all hoping for Car-nicety and not Car-nasty. We got it.”
“Conditions were pretty benign. There wasn’t much breeze. So whether it played easier or harder than what the other guys had it, I don’t know.”
Joakim Lagergren looked to have lost his way when he made a double-bogey at the famous 17th Road Hole, but a birdie on the 18th gave the Swede his seventh birdie of the day and he signed for a 3-under 69.
Martin Kaymer impressed once again on moving day, after keeping a bogey-free round which included seven birdies. The German started off his day with four pars before making back-to-back birdies on the 5th and 6th as well as repeating this on 8 and 9.
Still recovering his Ryder Cup loss, Martin Kaymer playing alongside his father today, managed to kick-start a birdie run from the 12th hole to make it three-in-a-row. Highlighted by a monster putt that dropped for him on the 13th green, out in 32 and home in 33 gave Kaymer a 7-under round of 65.
Twitter: Martin Kaymer makes beauty from way down town! On his way to shooting a 7-under round of 65! #DunhillLinks
Fellow Ryder Cup teammate, Rafa Cabrera-Bello, got off to a quick start on the front nine at St Andrews Old Course, by making three birdies in his first three holes and five birdies in seven holes. Going out in 31 promised so much for the Spaniard, but his putter went ice-cold on the back nine.
The Ryder Cup rookie made one bogey on the inward nine at the Old Course and eight pars making it a very frustrating afternoon. Cabrera-Bello carded a 4-under 68 at the end of Saturday’s play to sit at 8-under in T20.
It was a back nine to forget for Belgian Thomas Pieters, who started off his third round with back-to-back birdies before making 7 consecutive pars to make the turn in 34. However, tiredness got the better of Pieters who made poor swings off the tee on 10 and 18 and he carded three birdies and one double-bogey to sign for 1-over 73 and sits 12 off the pace at 5-under par.
Tommorrow, Tyrrell Hatton from High Wycombe will go in search of his maiden European Tour win and a winner’s cheque of £640,380.