Clandeboye’s Jonathan Caldwell fired a bogey-free four-under par round of 67 to remain in the hunt ahead of the final round of the Betfred British Masters at Close House.
The 36-year old was pitch-perfect, picking up four birdies with no bogeys in sight as he moved to 10-under par, six shots off Renato Paratore’s lead; the Italian yet to drop a shot in 54-holes.
“I played lovely tee-to-green, drove it well and hit a lot of greens, so to post a bogey free round was particularly nice and very pleased,” Caldwell reflected who sits in a share of eighth ahead of the final round.
“There were no particular highlights to be honest, so pretty boring stuff (smiling) with two of the birdies being two-putt birdies on two of the par-5s.
“I’m in a nice position on the leaderboard but then the scoring is good, the golf course is not too difficult with the greens pure. The pin positions yesterday were a little bit tricky but they were more accessible today in the reasonably calm weather so that’s why the guys have been going low.”
As for his first taste of the European Tour bubble, Caldwell commented from behind his mask;
“It’s been very different but I have not played a lot on the main tour over the years, so I am not used to that many spectators so things would seem normal to me at the minute,” he said.
“Though the set-up this week has been great, the on-site facilities are tremendous. It is not a whole lot different to what I am used to but then I am sure a lot of the other guys have found it a lot different but I am just happy enough to be playing whether there are no spectators or not.”
It could be a big week for Caldwell who has seen his re-emergence on the main tour somewhat stunted since graduating via Q-School last year. He missed the two-event swing in Austria over the last fortnight but looks intent to make up for lost time this week in Newcastle.
Another man looking to make the most of his chances is Paul Dunne who birdied his closing two holes and three of his last six to return another encouraging performance ahead of Saturday’s final round.
The 2017 champion returned to the fairways for the first time since losing his card last year. His absence was extended after suffering a wrist injury last term but Dunne looks to be on the comeback trail and posted a moving day two-under par round of 69 to get to three-under par through 54-holes and just inside the top-50.
It’s all about the flawless Paratore through 54-holes, however as he stayed bogey free to establish a one shot lead heading into the final round of the Lee Westwood hosted event.
The Italian entered day three at Close House Golf Club with a one shot lead and while he had company at the top of the leaderboard throughout the day, a closing birdie handed him a 66 and a 16-under par total.
Paratore, who despite being just 23, is playing in his 159th event this week and seeking a second win after claiming his maiden victory in Sweden three years ago.
I played really solid these three days, especially the short game which has helped me save some shots when I needed them, so I’m happy with that,” he said.
“Fortunately, I live in Dubai with my friend who is also on the European Tour and we played a lot of competitive rounds with each other after lockdown. I think this helped me to stay competitive.
“I played solid from tee to green and some putts helped me to keep things consistent, so I think everything has helped me throughout these rounds. I am just really happy, we practice to be in contention so I can’t wait to get out there tomorrow.”
South African Justin Harding was his nearest challenger after also carding a 66, one clear of Dane Rasmus Højgaard, who also got round in five under. Harding is also going in search of a second career title, while Højgaard is seeking his second of the 2020 Race to Dubai after becoming the third youngest winner in European Tour history at the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open.
England’s Dale Whitnell was at 13 under, a shot clear of countrymen Ashley Chesters and Sam Horsfield – who carded the lowest round of the week with a 61.
As the European Tour resumed after more than four months away due to the coronavirus pandemic, the ‘Golf For Good’ initiative was given a boost as Jack Senior made a hole-in-one on the 14th to win £50,000 for the Sir Graham Wylie Foundation. Betfred made the donation to the event’s Official Charity after Senior sank a seven iron from 176 yards.
Full scoring HERE
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