McGrane hangs tough in Wales

Damien McGrane acknowledges the crowd after a birdie two at the 13th. Picture: David Lloyd / www.golffile.iePaul McGinley crashed out of contention but Damien McGrane’s one under 70 left him within touching distance of a card-saving result - over even his first win since 2008 - in the ISPS Handa Wales Open.

As the Ryder Cup skipper failed to make a birdie, slumping to a six over 77 that left him tied 42nd on three over, McGrane defied tricky, blustery conditions and a firm TwentyTen course to share seventh place, five shots behind American pace-setter Peter Uihlein on two under par.

The Meath man is 111th in the Race to Dubai standings, just outside the Top 110 who will retain full playing rights next year. And while his position on the money list does little justice to his game this season, he knows he has to go out and put a result on the board to move away from the danger zone.

“Yeah, yeah, [the signs of form have been good] but I am just waiting for a good week on the board,” said McGrane, who hit just four fairways and 11 greens in another trademark, grinding performance.

He got to within a shot of leader Uihlein heading down the back nine, picking up birdies at the 11th, 13th and 14th. But he bogeyed the 16th and 18th to slip back in an event where just 15 players are in red figures.

“I am a little bit surprised about the scoring,” said McGrane, who birdied the first, bogeyed the third but then picked up three shots in four holes from the 11th before his untidy finish.

“I thought the scoring would be a lot more competitive that it is at the moment. But the course is very difficult and I have had another steady day today and I am very pleased.

“I am looking forward to another one again tomorrow. It was a pity I didn’t convert a birdie on 15 and I struggled on 16 and 18 today but all in all I hit a lot of good shots and even when I made bogey, I was making bogeys off reasonable shots, not poor shots, so that is convincing.

“It is blustery and the wind has turned around quite a lot so it hard to know if you are with the wind or if it’s slightly hurting, especially coming home.

“It is difficult to pull the right club out there. It is a good course and it is playing really well this year.

“We’ve played here and got a lot of rain in the past but it is turning a little bit fiery now, so it is nice to play the Wales Open in these conditions.”

McGinley could not maintain his form of the opening two rounds ((760-69), hitting just eight greens and taking 32 putts in a six bogey 77 that wrecked his chances.

But it was a good day for Wterville’s David Higgins, struggling to hold on to his card at 182nd in the money list, as he finished with two birdies for a 71 that leaves him tied 32nd on two over and in position to make a decent cheque with a hit finish.

Gareth Maybin dropped five shots in his first 11 holes and did well to shoot a two over 73, carding four birdies and just one bogey in the last seven, to end the day tied 61st on six over.

Peter Uihlein is playing some impressive golf at Celtic Manor. Picture ©Getty ImagesAs for Uihlein, the 24-year old is on course to capture the second European Tour title of a stunning rookie season.

The talented American, who is coached by  Butch Harmon, tamed the Twenty Ten Course to move into pole position to add to his win in the Madeira Islands Open – Portugal – BPI in May.

Uihlein started the season on the Challenge Tour, but will almost certainly finish it by teeing up in the money-spinning DP World Tour Championship, Dubai after a series of impressive performances on The European Tour this term.

His four under par round of 67 in tricky conditions was an exercise in control and patience, and moved him to seven under par, three strokes clear of Bourdy and Thomas Levet.

Uihlein, who eagled the par five ninth hole, said: “Today I felt like I was able to slow everything down, and just be in my own element. I was really trying to make sure I didn’t get ahead of myself, and keep it at one shot at a time.

“I learnt a lot playing with Jim Furyk in the first two rounds of the [US] PGA Championship, which was an unbelievable experience. Just watching him go about his business, and the way he handles himself, was an education, and that’s something I’m trying to do in my game.

“I’m excited. I feel like I’ve put myself in a good position and given myself opportunities, and that’s what it’s all about. I feel like the more I do it, the more comfortable I am doing it. Today was a great day and a good step in the right direction, and hopefully I’ll be able to repeat it tomorrow.”

Overnight leader Liam Bond endured a difficult day, labouring to a seven over par round 78 to slip back into a tie for 31st place on two over par.

Scores after round  3 (Par 71)

206 P Uihlein  (USA) 69 70 67,

209 G Bourdy (Fra) 67 72 70, T Levet (Fra) 75 67 67,

210 R Cabrera-Bello (Esp) 71 68 71, J Luiten (Ned) 73 68 69, P Hedblom (Swe) 72 72 66,

211 M Korhonen (Fin) 71 70 70, M Nixon (Eng) 72 71 68, D McGrane (Irl) 70 71 70, J Walters (RSA) 71 71 69, G Storm  (Eng) 72 67 72,

212 A Hansen (Den) 71 71 70, R Green (Aus) 66 76 70, E De La Riva  (Esp) 71 70 71, T Van Der Walt (RSA) 67 71 74,

213 P Waring  (Eng) 72 70 71, B Rumford (Aus) 72 69 72, S Kjeldsen (Den) 69 74 70, C Paisley  (Eng) 74 69 70, M Foster (Eng) 67 75 71, A Kaleka  (Fra) 71 72 70, J Parry (Eng) 71 69 73,

214 S Wakefield (Eng) 70 74 70, M Carlsson  (Swe) 72 74 68, R Rock (Eng) 68 73 73, C Lee (Sco) 77 67 70, E Grillo (Arg) 68 76 70, G Fdez-Castaño  (Esp) 70 75 69, E Kofstad (Nor) 64 74 76, C Wood  (Eng) 66 75 73,

215 D Higgins (Irl) 74 70 71, S Hansen (Den) 72 73 70, L Bond (Wal) 69 68 78, D Drysdale (Sco) 70 73 72, M Tullo (Chi) 74 70 71, S Arnold  (Aus) 72 74 69, J Edfors (Swe) 72 69 74, S Benson (Eng) 76 70 69, A Snobeck  (Fra) 73 71 71, O Fisher  (Eng) 71 72 72, F Aguilar (Chi) 72 72 71,

216 M Baldwin (Eng) 74 72 70, P McGinley (Irl) 70 69 77, R Enoch  (Wal) 73 70 73, A Hartø  (Den) 72 72 72, B Koepka  (USA) 72 71 73, R Fisher (Eng) 71 71 74, J Campillo (Esp) 71 73 72,

217 A Tadini (Ita) 70 72 75, S Chowrasia (Ind) 72 70 75, R Bland (Eng) 75 71 71, A Levy (Fra) 71 69 77, E Pepperell (Eng) 77 69 71, S Dyson  (Eng) 76 69 72, T Jaidee (Tha) 71 74 72,

218 J Lara (Esp) 73 70 75, C Doak (Sco) 72 70 76, J Lagergren (Swe) 74 72 72, M Kieffer (Ger) 69 75 74, M Ilonen  (Fin) 69 74 75,

219 J Quesne  (Fra) 73 69 77, M Jonzon (Swe) 71 74 74, G Maybin (Nir) 71 75 73, T Björn (Den) 72 73 74, R Santos  (Por) 70 76 73, R Wattel  (Fra) 72 74 73,

220 S Jamieson  (Sco) 74 72 74, A Dodt (Aus) 71 75 74,

221 R Coles (Eng) 69 73 79, P Erofejeff (Fin) 71 74 76, R Jacquelin (Fra) 70 71 80,

222 C Cévaër (Fra) 70 72 80,

224 A Marshall (Eng) 71 72 81