Graeme Clark leads the Virgin Atlantic 25th Anniversary Classic at Marriott Tudor Park in Kent by two shots going into the final round at 13 under par after following Tuesday’s opening round of 64 with a 63.
Clark (Doncaster GC, pictured) quickly moved into gear with a birdie at the third and an eagle at the fifth but it was on the back nine where he did his damage, equalling the four birdies in his opening round, but this time consecutively from the 14th.
“I’ve played well this week and I’ve holed a lot of putts,” said Clark, who topped the 2007 Order of Merit with three tournament wins. “It’s a pretty short course and there are plenty of chances out there, so tomorrow I’ve just got to stick to my game plan.”
His round of 63 was matched by Ian Keenan (Royal Liverpool) who is his closest challenger ahead of the final round. Keenan moved through two thirds of his round in an understated fashion, starting on the back nine and gaining just one stroke from his four under starting position after 12 holes. It was at this point that the 33 year-old shifted into gear and birdied every hole from the fourth to the ninth to join Clark and Paul Dwyer in carding course record equalling rounds of 63, moving to 11 under for the tournament.
Daniel Gaunt (Burhill GC) holds sole possession of third spot at nine under, although the in-form Australian will rue bogeys at 14 and 16 towards the end of his round, with four birdies on the front nine continuing his good work after an opening round 64. Gaunt cancelled out one dropped shot at the 17th, and that sees him one shot clear of Elliot Saltman (Aegon) in fourth spot after the Scotsman finished strongly on the front nine with four birdies to record at three under round of 67 to move to eight under.
Dwyer (Clitheroe) held the lead overnight but endured a frustrating day with a birdie at the ninth – his last – restoring parity and adding his name to a list of five players at seven under par. Martin Sell (Wrag Barn G&CC) climbed the highest to reach that score, kicking off his round on the back nine with three birdies and finishing with a four under 66. Matthew Evans (Rotherham), Nicky Harris (Whitefield GC) and Simon Lilly (Wellingborough) complete the group at seven under. Order of Merit leader Daniel Brooks (Mill Hill) leads a quartet one stroke behind them at six under.
Fifty-five players made the cut at one under for the final round, with the final pairing of Clark and Keenan teeing off at 12.21pm. Live scoring of the finale to the Virgin Atlantic 25th Anniversary Classic is available via the Score Updates link on the homepage.
Date Posted: 05/08/09, 7.15pm