• The Swede birdied the last two holes to reach 12-under
• Fifteen players are within six shots of the lead
ALEX NOREN | SCOTTISH OPEN
A birdie-birdie finish saw Alex Noren take a two-shot lead into the the final round of the Scottish Open – but a chasing pack sees 15 players within six shots of the lead.
The Swede had a slow start and was just one-under for his round after 13 holes but birdies at the 14th, 17th and 18th saw him race clear of second-placed Tyrrell Hatton and Matteo Manassero.
But despite opening up a two-shot advantage, Noren, whose most recent of his four European Tour wins came at the 2015 Nordea Masters, isn’t taking anything for granted heading into the final day.
“I’ve learned that when you lead it’s not certain that you’re going to win,” said Alex Noren. “Anyone who’s at six or seven-under can shoot a brilliant round. So I’ll be trying to put in another good round, working with my caddie and taking one shot at a time.
“I’ll be out there trying to make as many birdies as I can again tomorrow and we’ll just have to see what happens.”
The biggest surge of the day came from South African Justin Walters, who rocketed up the leaderboard with a seven-under-par 65 to set the clubhouse lead on nine-under-par.
And he revealed it was advice from the great Jose Maria Olazabal that has kept him upbeat during a troubling spell of six missed cuts in a row until a T45 finish at the French Open.
“It's been a long, long dry spell for me,” he said. “I remember almost three years ago, I played a practice round here with Jose Maria Olazábal and I said, ‘What's the most important thing you could give some advice to someone like myself?’ And he said, ‘Patience, you've really got to have patience’. This week I've tried to have that kind of outlook.”
Patience was certainly what was required for Graeme McDowell too. The Northern Irishman played the first three holes in one-over – some had played it in four-under – and was delighted to bounce back with four birdies on the back nine to sit four behind Noren.
“I knew guys were going low and getting off to such a slow start when the golf course was there for the taking – when the rain came on – I had no more frustration left in me. But I managed to make a couple putts and get going.
“It was important to hang in there. I could’ve blown myself out of the tournament out of the front nine but I was pleased to make a few birdies coming in and give myself a shot tomorrow.”
Alex Noren :: Will he win?
Who do you think will win the 2016 Scottish Open? Alex Noren or somebody else? Leave your thoughts in the 'Comments' section below.