Turkish Airlines Open: Dubuisson cooking with gas
On another idyllic day on this splendid golfing strip close to Antalya, Raphael Jacquelin, out in one of the first groups, got things smoking with a 10-under-par 62, a new course record that also contained a European Tour record-equalling 12 birdies.
It moved him to joint third on 15-under but, heading into the final round of the penultimate event in the European Tour’s new Final Series, he has six shots to make up on his compatriot, Victor Dubuisson.
A former amateur world No.1, Dubuisson is yet to taste victory in the paid ranks but has set up a golden opportunity to break his duck in sensational style with a flawless 63. He leads by five from Ian Poulter (68), with Jacquelin alongside Tiger Woods (68), Henrik Stenson (69) and Alejandro Canizares (66).
Woods, who started the day just one off the pace, scrambled well as he covered the front nine in 3-under but was then all over the place coming home.
At the last, for instance, he pulled his tee shot fully 80 yards. Incredibly, the world No.1 managed to make a birdie and insisted that he can still record a sixth win of the season.
“I struggled all day with my swing and it caught up with me on the back nine, but I’m not of the tournament,” said Woods. “I’ve got to keep fighting – and that’s the way I’ve always played.”
Being paid a reported £1.5 million to be here – he’s also signed up to play in the event for the next two years – Woods might not have had much control with his ball off the tee, but his shot-making ability thrilled the locals at the tenth.
Blocked out by a tree, he cut one fully 15 yards to find the green.
“That was a good one,” he admitted. “These golf balls don’t move as much as the old balata balls, so to be able to slice it that much from such a short distance was pretty good.”
In trouble again at the next, the 14-times major winner hit a tree with his follow through and grimaced in pain as the club flew out of his hands. “I hurt a couple of fingers and they’re a little tender,” he confessed.
Dubuisson, who suffered a temporary heart scare in last month’s Portugal Masters, was expecting a sleepless night. “But, as soon as I hit my first drive I’m normally calm on the course,” he said after a round he felt eclipsed his 62 at St Andrews in last year’s Dunhill Links.
Marc Warren (66) is joint 14th on 11-under, just ahead of Craig Lee, who, after a 69, is still on course to earn a spot in next week’s Tour Championship in Dubai. A five-shot improvement on the par-5s from the previous day was the key to Stephen Gallacher’s 68 for 9-under, while Paul Lawrie enjoyed a rare day of success on the greens in his 66. In joint 47th, though, even the same again today probably won’t be enough for him to reach Dubai.