All photographs by Golffile
Jamie Donaldson. Jamie Donaldson
Ryder Cup star Jamie Donaldson will go in search of his first European Tour title in more than six years as he takes a one-stroke lead into the final round of the Aphrodite Hills Cyprus Open.
The Welshman, a three-time winner on the European Tour, won his last title at the D+D Real Czech Masters in 2014 and is playing on an invitation this week. The 45-year-old birdied the last to reach 14 under par and move one shot ahead of five players who share second place at Aphrodite Hills Resort.
Four of those five are chasing their first win on the European Tour, including Scotland’s David Drysdale, who would equal Malcolm Mackenzie’s record of playing 509 tournaments before achieving his first victory.
Also in the hunt are England’s Marcus Armitage, Thomas Detry of Belgium and the Finnish pair of Kalle Samooja and Sami Välimäki, who won the Oman Open in March. Samooja started the third round six strokes off the pace but carded the lowest round of the day, a seven under par 64, to move into contention.
Armitage, Detry, Drysdale and Samooja have all previously won on the European Challenge Tour.
Ardglass’ Cormac Sharvin was two-under for the day and eight-under for the tournament with three holes to play. But the Co Down man (28) made a quadruple-bogey eight at the 16th and followed a birdie two at the 17th with a par-five at the last to sign for a one-over 72 that relegated him to 45th on five-under.
Jamie Donaldson: “There was a lot of good stuff. Played great at the end there, last few holes I dug in. It was just tough; the wind was blowing on the course. It was blowing up to 20 miles an hour. It made a strong emphasis on flight control. I wasn't able to keep a couple of shots down when I would have liked to. We didn't have that problem for the first two days, so it was a lot easier, it was more of a shoot at sticks type thing. Overall, quite happy.
“I'm just working hard, really. I'm not getting any younger so it's a case of just deciding what you want to do, and what I want to do is play golf. It's a case of working really hard to get back to playing decent again and contending, which is what I'm doing now and it's great. It just took a long time after the wrist injury.
“I played nicely today, have played good for three rounds. Tomorrow is the most important day, so tomorrow is the day I need to produce my best golf if I'm going to win. There are a lot of guys up there. I just need to go out there and play as well as I can play.”
Kalle Samooja: “I was playing well over the first two days. In the first round I had a couple of big mistakes, that’s why I think I was so far behind. We set a goal of what we should reach over the weekend and we are heading towards that.
“There’s one club in my bag that holes the putts – the putter has been working well the whole week. That’s been the key thing. I’ve been hitting some good wedges but there are some parts that need to be improved.
“It’s quite crowded at the top of the leaderboard. I’m just hoping to stay in touch and the person who wants to win tomorrow needs to shoot really low. That’s the only mindset I have for tomorrow. If you want to shoot a low score, you better start from the first hole.”
David Drysdale: “Was pretty much in control until the last three holes. Tee shot left on 16, tried to hold a five iron in to 17, double crossed it, and then you saw the last. For 15 holes it was some good ball striking, in control in the wind. It was a slightly tougher day. I would say three under is a fair reflection.
“Obviously, I've been out here a long time, I haven't won. I won a couple of tournaments on Challenge Tour. I haven't had that many opportunities, you need to try to seize the opportunities, they have been few and far between. Just got to be patient and play some good golf. The golf that I played for the first 15 holes today was good golf, so if I can do that for the next 18 holes, we'll see where it gets me.
“I remember Malcolm Mackenzie's win at Paris National (for his first European Tour win in his 509th appearance). I don't believe in fate, but it would be nice if it happened."
Marcus Armitage: “I just stuck to my game plan. It was one of those days, I swung it like an octopus and couldn’t get anything going on the greens. I just stayed patient and stuck in there. It was a windy day, I thought if I could stay with JD (Jamie Donaldson) I wouldn’t be too far away – he was playing some good stuff.
“You have to go for it. We’re not here for money. We’re here for trophies – you just have to go for it. I realised that on the back nine, you can’t mess around with the standard that’s out there.”
Aphrodite Hills Cyprus Open, Aphrodite Hills Resort, Kouklia, Paphos, Cyprus (Par 71)
199 J Donaldson (Wal) 65 65 69,
200 M Armitage (Eng) 66 64 70, S Valimaki (Fin) 65 67 68, D Drysdale (Sco) 65 67 68, T Detry (Bel) 66 67 67, K Samooja (Fin) 70 66 64,
201 C Shinkwin (Eng) 67 66 68, J Smith (Eng) 67 66 68, G Higgo (RSA) 68 66 67, R MacIntyre (Sco) 68 67 66, J Winther (Den) 68 68 65,
202 S Sharma (Ind) 67 66 69, M Schwab (Aut) 67 67 68, A Saddier (Fra) 67 69 66, D Whitnell (Eng) 68 68 66,
203 J Veerman (USA) 64 69 70, A Sullivan (Eng) 65 69 69, J Scrivener (Aus) 70 66 67, J Morrison (Eng) 68 69 66, T Olesen (Den) 69 69 65,
204 C Sordet (Fra) 66 68 70, J Stalter (Fra) 65 71 68, S Heisele (Ger) 68 68 68, M Kieffer (Ger) 69 67 68, M Jordan (Eng) 69 67 68, M Korhonen (Fin) 68 70 66,
205 M Waite (Eng) 64 70 71, D Horsey (Eng) 66 69 70, A Cockerill (Can) 69 66 70,
206 W Besseling (Ned) 67 67 72, S Vincent (Zim) 68 68 70, L De Jager (RSA) 68 68 70, R Sciot-siegrist (Fra) 69 67 70, P Waring (Eng) 68 69 69, S Garcia Rodriguez (Esp) 69 68 69, G Havret (Fra) 69 69 68, R Langasque (Fra) 70 69 67,
207 L Gagli (Ita) 66 69 72, A Cañizares (Esp) 70 66 71, D Coupland (Eng) 69 68 70, A Rozner (Fra) 71 66 70, A Bjork (Swe) 69 69 69, Y Chang (Kor) 73 65 69, M Pavon (Fra) 71 68 68,
208 B Hebert (Fra) 69 64 75, J Suri (USA) 70 65 73, Cormac Sharvin (Nir) 69 67 72, M Southgate (Eng) 68 69 71, J Campillo (Esp) 69 68 71, P Figueiredo (Por) 66 72 70, C Hill (Sco) 69 69 70, T Pulkkanen (Fin) 69 70 69,
209 R McEvoy (Eng) 66 66 77, M Kawamura (Jpn) 69 67 73, G Forrest (Sco) 69 69 71, R Santos (Por) 69 69 71, J Sjoholm (Swe) 69 69 71, S Soderberg (Swe) 69 69 71, M Antcliff (Aus) 69 69 71, J Luiten (Ned) 70 68 71,
210 G Fernandez-Castaño (Esp) 66 70 74, J Lagergren (Swe) 72 67 71,
211 H Porteous (RSA) 69 68 74, A Quiros (Esp) 68 70 73, L Canter (Eng) 67 72 72, A Wu (Chn) 68 71 72,
212 N Colsaerts (Bel) 69 70 73,
213 C Pigem (Esp) 69 70 74,
214 W Nienaber (RSA) 68 67 79