Johnnie Walker Championship: Lawrie leads at Gleneagles

Paul Lawrie leads after the third round at Gleneagles


Paul Lawrie
Romain Wattel (Fra)
Stephen Gallacher
Gary Boyd, Maarten Lafeber (Ned), Brett Rumford (Aus)
Selected others:
-7 Colin Montgomerie -6 Richie Ramsay, Nicolas Colsaerts (Bel) -5 Francesco Molinari (Ita)

Paul Lawrie celebrated his Ryder Cup inclusion with a third-round 67 to give him a one-shot lead going into the final round of the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles.

The Scot, on 12 under, is one shot ahead of French 21-year-old Romain Wattel who fired a stunning 63.

Nicolas Colsaerts needs a top-two finish for an automatic Ryder Cup spot but is in joint 13th place after a 71.

The Belgian is likely to be picked as one of the two wildcards on Monday.

Finishing runner-up at the Auchterarder course on Sunday would mean Colsaerts knocking Germany's Martin Kaymer out of the last automatic spot on Jose Maria Olazabal's European team.

But unless Padraig Harrington wins the Barclays Tournament in America this weekend, Colsaerts and Ian Poulter are expected to become the Spanish captain's wildcard choices.

"I am a little disappointed as I started very, very good but I still showed passion," said Colsaerts, who revealed he will be fly-fishing when the announcement is made at 12:00 BST on Monday.

"I still showed that I play with my guts, and you know, I'm just fighting like a dog. I have no idea what I need to do tomorrow. My strategy is to shoot the best round of my career, plain and simple.

"I'm thinking about it all the time. When you want something that much it's difficult to avoid."

Thomas Bjorn, one of the four assistant captains along with Darren Clarke, Paul McGinley and Miguel Angel Jimenez, had dinner with Olazabal on Friday night.

"I think he's pretty much where he wants to be with the team," the Dane explained.

"He's pretty certain what he wants to do and there's only a few people that can really rock the boat if they win the last tournament."

Having learned earlier this week that he will play in the Ryder Cup for the first time since 1999, Lawrie's focus is on trying to win on home soil for the third time.

The first of those was the 1999 Open Championship - the victory that led to his Ryder Cup debut - he then added the Dunhill Links title at St Andrews in 2001.

Belgium's Nicolas Colsaerts
Belgium's Nicolas Colsaerts needs to charge up the leaderboard to boost his Ryder Cup chances

Lawrie ended a nine year spell without a victory in Spain last year and has looked good for a second cap ever since he triumphed in Qatar in February and finished runner-up to Luke Donald in the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth in May.

"I am not someone who gets stressed out at awful lot," Lawrie said. "But it's nice to have the Ryder Cup qualification out of the way and get back to what you should be working on, which is winning tournaments, and this week is the start of that.

"If I can hang on that would be huge to have two wins this year, a Ryder Cup place and hopefully win some points."

He resumed one behind joint halfway leaders Mark Foster and Richard Finch, but the two Englishmen had poor rounds of 75 and 78 respectively.

Three birdies took Lawrie to the turn in 33 and while he did bogey the 10th and 15th there were also four more birdies on the inward half.

Wattel's 63 would have equalled the course record were it not for preferred lies being in operation on the wet fairways.

Lawrie's 1999 Ryder Cup partner Colin Montgomerie, who lives just a few miles from the course, enjoyed a round of 69.

"That's the best golf I've played in a number of years. I'm very disappointed not to shoot a lot lower," he said.

"My belief was non-existent. This has re-ignited some fire, which is great."

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