David Drysdale’s win hopes dampened on last hole

DAVID DRYSDALE’S hopes of a first European Tour win suffered a blow when he drove into the water and ran up a double-bogey six on the 18th hole during the third round of the Avantha Masters in India yesterday.

The mishap left Drysdale, seeking a first tour win at the 291st attempt, sharing third on 14 under with Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat. Berwickshire-based Drysdale, pictured, had looked set to be leader Thomas Aiken’s closest challenger following birdies at the 16th and 17th until his errant drive on the last.

Despite his double bogey, Drysdale attempted to take the positives from an otherwise excellent round.

“It was all going to plan through 17 but I got a little bit greedy with my tee-shot on the last and paid the price,” he said. “I generally drive the ball so straight so it’s annoying. I got the wind wrong and thought it was helping and not hurting and came up a couple of yards short of the carry I thought I would make. Shame about the finish but I am still in there for tomorrow. I would have taken it at the start of the week, so I am looking forward to tomorrow.”

South African Aiken took a three-shot lead into the final round this morning after charging through the field with a superb ten-under-par 62 yesterday. Aiken began the day four shots off the lead but carded eight birdies and an eagle for an 18-under-par total of 198 at Jaypee Greens Golf Course at Greater Noida, New Delhi.

The 29-year-old from Johannesburg, whose sole European Tour title to date came in the Spanish Open in 2011, covered the front nine in 30 thanks to four birdies and an eagle three when he holed a pitch shot on the second.

And he picked up four more birdies on the back nine to finish three clear of overnight joint-leader Liang Wenchong of China, who returned a 69.

Australian Scott Hend, England’s Tommy Fleetwood and Finland’s Joonas Granberg share seventh place, a shot behind Drysdale and Aphibarnrat.

Former Ryder Cup player David Howell is in a tie for 12th on 11 under after a flawless 65.

Aiken was six under par after just eight holes, but insisted the thoughts of a historic 59 never entered his mind. “I wasn’t really thinking about the score at all,” he said. “I got off to a great start with a birdie at the first and holing a pitch shot for eagle always helps, but from then on I just stuck to my game plan.

“All in all I’m very pleased with the way I played and it’s funny what can happen when you are not thinking about a score. I have been playing very well the last few months and just haven’t converted opportunities; there was always a round of level par or one over and fortunately this week I have converted a lot of the opportunities that I’ve had. I missed a few, as we all do, but the majority have gone in from inside ten feet.”

Spain’s Alvaro Quiros, making his first appearance for four months following wrist surgery in November last year, added a 69 to his two opening rounds of 70 to lie seven under par.