Scotland’s Paul Lawrie is determined to deliver European Ryder Cup captain Jose Maria Olazabal a third victory boost after muscling his way to a one stroke lead on day three of the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles.
Lawrie, seeking his second Tour victory this year, grabbed seven birdies in a five under par 67 on Saturday to move to 12- under par and one stroke clear of Frenchman Romain Wattel.
Earlier this week, Lawrie’s return to the European Team for the first time in 13 years since making his only appearance at Brookline in 1999 was confirmed.
“I played very good again today and hit the ball very solid,” he said.
“I gave myself a lot of chances and only hit two poor shots all day. But the big thing this week is that I have been working on my rhythm again.
“I was doing that at the start of the year but what has been going on lately, it’s not been the same so if I can hang on tomorrow (Sunday) and that would be huge to have two wins in a Ryder Cup year.”
If successful in capturing an eighth European Tour success Lawrie would then join fellow European Ryder Cup members Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia as a third straight winner for Olazabal.
“It wasn’t long ago that the American Team, not kind of dominating but they were playing better than our team, no question,” said Lawrie.
“But slowly but surely the last two, three, four weeks, the European boys have kicked on a little bit and had a couple of good wins, and Rory at the PGA, I would hope that would be huge for our team, winning the last major.
“That would be a big advantage for us.
“But then the American Team have good players, experienced players, like we have. It’s going to still come down to be one or two points I would imagine.”
“But slowly but surely the last two, three, four weeks, the European boys have kicked on a little bit and had a couple of good wins, and Rory at the PGA, I would hope that would be huge for our team, winning the last major”
Wattel posted 10 birdies in a nine under par 63 for the 21-year to be in second place on 11-under par and as he strives for his first Tour victory.
“Every time you go low in a round you enjoy it but I especially enjoyed today’s round because this is a tough golf course,” said Wattel.
“I needed a really good score to be back in the tournament and that’s what I did so I am really happy.”
Belgium’s Nicolas Colsaerts, despite birdies at his opening two holes, looks now likely needing a Ryder Cup ‘wildcard’ pick after slipping six shots behind Lawrie with a one under par third round 71 for a six under par tally.
“I am a little disappointed as I started very, very good, and I was feeling very well but went through a difficult patch at eight, nine and 10 but did finish in good fashion,” he said.
“But I am now going to have no choice tomorrow. I still showed passion. I still showed that I play with my guts, and you know, I’m just fighting like a dog.
“I have no idea what I need to do tomorrow. My strategy is to shoot the best round of my career, plain and simple.”
And with Olazabal set to announce his two ‘wildcard’ picks at 1100 GMT on Monday, Colsaerts said he will be fishing.
“I have some fly fishing set for Monday morning and that will give me something else to think about,” he said.