Singapore, March 20: American veteran Greg Hanrahan celebrated his 46th birthday in style today as he launched a full frontal assault at the Caltex Masters Presented by Carlsberg, Singapore 2004 today.
Thai-based Hanrahan, who served in the US Army before embarking on a career in golf, ended the third round tied for the lead with playing partner, England’s Barry Lane after both players shot matching five-under-par 67s to overhaul overnight leader Mardan Mamat of Singapore.
The leading duo head the US$900,000 Caltex Masters, jointly anctioned by the Asian and European Tours, with a three-day score of 13-under-par 203, two strokes ahead of Mardan. The Singaporean number one double bogeyed the treacherous par three 17th, the toughest hole this week, en route to a 70 at Laguna National Golf and Country Club.
Big Scot Colin Montgomerie moved menacingly up the leaderboard with a solid 67 to lie four off the pace alongside Frenchman Thomas Levet, England’s Jonathan Lomas and South African James Kingston.
“It’s a nice birthday gift! I’ve got a nice tempo now. My swing relies on timing and my short game is working. And I??m hitting the ball okay … one shot at a time. I’m not going to celebrate tonight, maybe tomorrow,” said Hanrahan, who is searching for his first win on the Asian circuit which started in 1995.
After missing the cut in the first two events of the 2004 season, Hanrahan, who has one of the most unorthodox golf swings in the game, has produced impressive performances, finishing in the top-20 in his last three events. He also contended in the European Tour-sanctioned Carlsberg Malaysian Open last month before fading at the weekend for tied 16th place.
“I’m taking golf a lot more seriously. I’m getting older now and I’m living in Thailand where life is very laidback, casual and easy and beautiful. The wife is coming on to me saying ‘you know you’re getting old and where’s the security?’ like all women do, right?
“But yes, she’s right and I better make the money. I look at the Seniors tour as retirement but who knows. It’ll be awesome (if I win). But I’m not going to get ahead of myself. My whole key to my success is one shot at a time. I’m not letting the mind race ahead anywhere. I would love to play on the European Tour sometime and I’m making the plan to try the qualifying school in Europe,” said Hanrahan.
He turned in 34 with three birdies against a bogey and raced ahead with birdies on the 10th, 11th, 14th and 15th. He could have ended the day alone at the top of the leaderboard but gave away “a silly bogey” after missing a putt from four feet.
The 43-year-old Lane made it a day for the veterans when he holed several big putts on 15 and 16 to tie Hanrahan. “You don’t really worry about anybody else because you can’t control what they do. You just have to post a score,” said Lane, who is seeking his first win in a decade.
Lane was complimentary of Hanrahan’s unique golf swing. “He played absolutely beautiful today and hit some fantastic shots. He never backed off. He is a very good player,” said Lane.
Halfway leader Mardan could have made it a three-way tie for the lead if not for a costly blemish in his penultimate hole where found water with his tee shot. “I hit a two iron. It was a bad swing. That is all. But one bad hole does not mean that I’m out of it. I’m still in contention.
“The crowds were very supportive. They kept saying things like ‘hey, a lot of birdies coming’. Tomorrow, I will just take it one shot at a time and focus on my game,” said Mardan.
A bogey free card which included five birdies for his best round of the week lifted Montgomerie into the title hunt. “I played very well, the putts just skimmed the hole the last three holes. I burned the edged but there you go. No bogeys again and I’ve had only one bogey (in three rounds).
“I haven’t made enough birdies but no bogeys is fine. I have a chance to get going for a low one tomorrow but you never know,” said Montgomerie.
Leading third round scores
203 – Greg Hanrahan (USA) 68-68-67,Barry Lane (ENG) 71-65-67
205 – Mardan Mamat (SIN) 67-68-70
207 – Thomas Levet (FRA) 67-75-65, Jonathan Lomas (ENG) 71-71-65, Colin Montgomerie (SCO) 71-69-67, James Kingston (RSA) 68-69-70
208 – Henrik Bjornstad (NOR) 73-66-69
209 – Yang Yong-eun (KOR) 74-69-66, Jose Manuel Lara (ESP) 71-72-66, Terry Price (AUS) 70-70-69, Kang Wook-soon (KOR) 70-70-69, Nick O’Hern (AUS) 71-68-70, Wang Ter-chang (TPE) 75-68-66, Thongchai Jaidee (THA) 71-68-70, Peter Lawrie (IRE) 68-70-71
210 – David Gleeson (AUS) 70-71-69, Marten Olander (SWE) 73-68-69, Brett Rumford (AUS) 71-69-70, Peter Hanson (SWE) 68-73-69, Matthew Blackey (ENG) 70-73-67, Jyoti Randhawa (IND) 72-64-74
211 – Patrik Sjoland (SWE) 70-71-70, Michael Campbell (NZL) 69-70-72, Kyi Hla Han (MYN) 68-69-74, Damien Mcgrane (IRE) 68-68-75, Eddie Lee (NZL) 64-72-75