Tartan Tour trio close in on title defence

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Tartan Tour trio David Orr, Graham Fox and Gareth Wright are tantalisingly close to being crowned as the PGAs of Europe International Team champions for the second year in a row.

The PGA in Scotland representatives head into today’s final round at Gloria Golf Club locked in a share of the lead with France after another cut-and-thrust day at the Belek resort in southern Turkey.

Leading by one at the halfway stage, the Scots had slipped four behind at one point after England surged to the top of the leaderboard before digging deep on the back nine.

With two from the three scores counting, West Linton’s Wright carded a bogey-free three-under 69 while Fox, who is attached to Clydeway Golf, came home in four-under 31 for a 71, one better than Orr.

“I played fantastic today,” said Wright, the recently-crowned PGA No 1, of his effort. “I hit 17 of 18 greens and was solid apart from my putting. Out of six six-foot birdie putts I had on the back nine, I only holed one, so it could have been a really low round.”

Compared to 12 months ago, when they won by 10 shots, the Scots not only have France to try and shake off but also Ireland, Wales and England as the top five are covered by five shots.

“It is definitely tighter than last year and on this course it only takes two holes for everything to change,” acknowledged Wright. “We just need to go out and keep doing what we are doing and hopefully we will come out on top again.”

Four off the lead, Wales were indebted to Sion Bebb, who posted his second successive five-under-par round of 67, a score that puts him level with Italy’s Luca Beneduce on nine-under for the tournament, one behind Fox.

Meanwhile, the denouement of the International Shield, the competition for teams representing a PGA with 100 members or fewer, looks set to be as competitive as the main tournament.

Host nation Turkey have led the tournament within a tournament from day one but their advantage over Poland going into the final round is just four strokes.

Elsewhere, Scottish duo Simon Yates and Scott Jamieson opened with 73 and 74 respectively in the Asian Tour’s Thailand Golf Championship at Amata Spring Country Club.

Welshman Jamie Donaldson, Europe’s match-winner in last year’s Ryder Cup at Gleneagles, carded a nine-under 63 to lead by three shots from a group that includes on-form Spaniard Sergio Garcia.