Tartan trio Bob MacIntyre, Scott Jamieson and Richie Ramsay are all flying high in the Turkish Airlines Open after an eventful third round at Montgomerie Maxx Royal in Belek that included Eddie Pepperell being disqualified for running out of golf balls following a “Tin Cup” moment.
After finding the same lake at the par-5 fourth that ended Pepperell’s tournament prematurely as the English suffered a meltdown, MacIntyre maintained his lofty position on the leaderboard in the Rolex Series event after finishing with a flourish as he covered the last four holes in four-under.
Sparked by an eagle-2 at the 15th, where he set up a “Brucie bonus” by hitting a near 300-yard tee shot to around three feet, the late burst saw the 23-year-old rookie from Oban to back up his sensational 63 on Friday with a 67 for a 15-under-par total.
Bidding to land his breakthrough victory on the European Tour after already racking up three second-place finishes this season to be in pole position to claim the Rookie of the Year Award, MacIntyre sits joint-second, three shots behind Matthias Schwab after the Austrian extended his overnight lead with a 66 to add to opening efforts of 65-67.
In what has been a common theme on the circuit this season, more than one Saltire is promiment on the leaderboard on the Mediterranean coast, with Jamieson sitting joint-seventh on 13-under after a 68, with Ramsay also in the top 15 following a 64, which equalled the best round of the day in the $7 million tournament, with $2 million going to the winner.
MacIntyre, who sits ninth in the Race to Dubai, has his sights set on that whopping pay-day after showing an attitude more akin to an experienced campaigner as he not only overcame the fact he’d “seriously struggled” in his warm up session but also having to show really patient to stay in the hunt for that maiden title triumph.
“That was probably more rewarding today than my 63 yesterday,” admitted the left-hander. “Anybody watching would have thought ‘he’s struggling to shoot level-par’ but to walk away with five-under, that’s how my game is just now.
“It was one of those days where I just had to bide my time and hope things happened eventually. I feel my patience is working well out there. It is a bit of everything from family life, to having Greg (Milne, his caddie) on the bag and also having Davy (Burns, his coach), here this week. Everything we are doing is about staying patient.”
Having been knocking loudly at the door in those close calls in the British Masters, Made in Denmark and European Open, can he open it on this occasion? “The first time I was in contention I was worried, I was shaking with the putter at the British Masters. But I’ve shot under par every time I’ve been in with a shout,” he replied to that question from Scotland on Sunday. “On this course, you can’t expect to shoot level-par and expect to win a tournament. I’ll just stay aggressive, keep the driver in the hands, keep attacking pins while be sensible what pins I will attack. Every pin that’s there for the taking I’ll go straight at it. That’s just the way I play golf.”
For both Jamieson and Ramsay, the final round offers both of them a chance to either tie up or edge closer to securing spots in the season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai in a fortnight’s time. Needing to be in the top 50 in the Race to Dubai after next week’s Nedbank Golf Challenge in South Africa, Jamieson sits 74th and Ramsay 59th.
“I was probably better today than yesterday, even though I didn’t score quite as well. But it was a good day,” said Jamieson after carding five birdies in the company of 2018 Masters champion Patrick Reed, who sits alongside MacIntyre as well as English duo Ross Fisher and Tyrrell Hatton and Frenchman Benjamin Hebert.
“Coming into this week, I wasn’t into next week but it looks as though a few guys might have withdrawn and it looks as though I will be. Then I need to try and get as close to that top-50 mark as I can this week then try and improve on that next week.”
Ramsay, who is enjoying a strong finish to the campaign, having recorded three top-10s in his previous four starts made his score with a burst of six birdies around the turn before signing off with two more.
“I think I’ve had seven in a row before. I’ll take six, though,” he admitted with a smile. “There wasn’t much difference tee to green compared to Friday but I just made a lot of putts, including one from 45 feet from the bottom of the slope at the second. It was very solid and smart. I put myself in position off the tee and from there you can be very aggressive.
“Hopefully I’ll be in the mix tomorrow and give myself a chance of making Dubai as that was the main goal at the start of the season. It’s where the best players are. The top 50 guys in Europe. If you can’t win the tournament here, then at least you have Dubai as the target. It’s a nice little goal to keep your mind sharp on every shot.”
David Drysdale, the fourth Scot in the field after earning a late call up, followed two opening 72s wity a 76 to sit in joint-71st on four-over-par.
Pepperell, who was level-par for the tournament at the time, ran out of balls after continuing to fire them into a pond adjacent to the fourth green.
“Eddie hit his shots to the green, then came over to tell us he had run out of balls,” said admitted a bemused Martin Kaymer, one of the Englishman’s playing partners.
“Then he walked off. I thought he lost four or five. We are about 80 percent sure it was five, 20 percent four. He was quick, so it was hard to keep track.
“He did not ask if he could borrow one from me or George (Coetzee). It did not look like he wanted to play. He did not putt with his putter on the third hole; he putted with a wedge. So there was a lot happening.
“I have never seen anything like that before. I only watched it on television, in ‘Tin Cup.’ This is the first time I have seen it live.”