Ross Fisher manages to stay on his toes to keep himself just one shot off the lead
Accident-prone Ross Fisher overcame another incident to keep himself in the hunt for the ISPS Handa Wales Open at Celtic Manor.
Despite a problem with a toe and a real struggle on the tee, Fisher managed a third-round 71 and will go into the final day only one shot behind Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee.
The former Ryder Cup player – it was on this very course he made his debut two years ago – stubbed his toe in his hotel room on Friday night.
“There were a few expletives and it was extremely painful,” said Fisher. “I couldn’t put any weight on it and half-contemplated playing in trainers.
“One of the toes is as purple as anything. I iced it and two of the toes were strapped together, but I hit it everywhere and I’m glad to finish.”
Fisher even finished with a birdie, which made five in all, but there were also five bogeys and that allowed ex-paratrooper Jaidee to take over at the top. The 42-year-old is a four-times winner on the European Tour, but all those came in Asia, where he has pulled off 15 victories in all. Jaidee, ranked 199th in the world to Fisher’s 157th, also birdied the par five last after an incredible drive measured at 410 yards.
“I think 320 is the longest for me, so when we got to the top of the hill I asked ‘where’s the ball?’ and a marshall told me,” he said. “I thought it was 390, but 410 sounds better.”
He only needed a seven-iron second to the 575-yard hole, pushed it into a bunker, but made a 12-footer for the outright lead on seven under.
Fisher, joined in second place by Dutchman Joost Luiten after his best-of-the-week 64, has dropped 130 places on the rankings since he helped Europe to victory.
“It would mean a lot to win. I set very high standards and I reached 17th in the world, so I know I have the game,” he said.
“Given where I hit it that’s one of the best level par rounds I’ve ever had. I hung in there and dug deep.
“The 63 I had at the European Open [an event he won by seven shots at The London Club in 2008] was good, but today was impressive.”
Playing partner Lee Slattery, two behind Fisher at halfway, could not say the same.
The Southport player put two balls in the water for a quadruple bogey seven on the 189-yard third and with a 76 fell back to joint 26th.
Luiten had started the day in a tie for 20th place and was even deeper in the pack after a bogey on the fifth.
But birdies at the next two sparked a recovery and by the time he sank a 25-foot putt for an eagle two at the driveable 15th he was out in front of the field.
After two-putting the last for his sixth birdie he said: “It hasn’t been a great season, but it’s a course that if you play well you can shoot a decent score.”
He was only one off his lowest-ever round on the circuit and that one set him up for his only victory in Indonesia late last season.
Scot Paul Lawrie, currently lying second in the Ryder Cup standings, reached two under after eight holes, but a double bogey seven on the next was a big setback and he finished with a 71 for one over, the same as Slattery.