NORTH BERWICK, Scotland (AP) — Tommy Fleetwood reveled in poor conditions Saturday to play himself into contention for a sixth European Tour title at the Scottish Open.
Fleetwood defied gusting winds and constant heavy rain, which left parts of the course at the Renaissance Club under water, to card a 2-under 69 in the third round. He is two shots behind fellow Englishman Robert Rock at the top.
The last few groups finished in near darkness and Rock contemplated not continuing on the par-three 17th as he struggled to see the pin, but he parred the last two holes to complete an excellent 72.
Ian Poulter, Marcus Kinhult and Wade Ormsby share second place alongside Fleetwood, but overnight leader Lucas Herbert slumped six shots off the pace after struggling to a 79.
“I loved every minute of it,” Fleetwood said. “It’s golf isn’t it? Let’s face it, with the money we play for these days it does not do any harm does it? It’s fine. I’d play in it every day if that’s what it took."
Fleetwood ended his round with a birdie on the 18th
“It was pretty relentless," he said. “The rain didn’t stop for half a second and just got worse and progressively worse and windy throughout day. It was pretty tough towards the end.”
Poulter began the day two shots off the lead and remarkably played the first 11 holes in 2 under par before the worsening conditions contributed to four dropped shots in the last seven holes.
“I think it’s pretty good, I have to say,” Poulter said after his 73. “It was damage limitation whenever you missed a green or fairway and that was hard work. That’s as tough a day as I’ve seen on a golf course in 21 years.
“It was a shame towards the end it just got unmanageable really, but on the front nine I played some great golf. It’s really easy to sit here and just moan and say the golf course got unplayable, right. I’m not going to do that. I’m going to say it was a massive mental challenge, and we needed all of the greenkeepers’ help to get us here."
Victor Dubuisson, Adri Arnaus and Gavin Green all shot 67in the slightly better early conditions that lifted the trio into a tie for sixth with England’s Andy Sullivan, who returned a 69.
Dubuisson was unbeaten on his Ryder Cup debut at Gleneagles in 2014 and reached a career-high of 14th in the world the same year, but began this week ranked 400th.
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