Joost Luiten plays his second shot on the 18th yesterday. Pic: David Cannon/Getty
The last time Joost Luiten played a tournament in Dubai, such were his troubles on the greens that he threatened to part company with his putter even before the round was finished. That was all the way back at February’s Dubai Desert Classic, though, the promising Dutch youngster and his flat stick obviously since have kissed and made up. Luiten fired a five-under third round yesterday to sit tied-fifth. He promptly attributed his display to a putter that “got warm”.
Nobody likes playing third wheel. You know, the poor soul who makes a loved-up twosome a trio. So spare a thought for JP Fitzgerald, the dutiful caddie to Rory McIlroy, who would have expected to ride shotgun in the golf cart that taxis players from the ninth green to the 10th tee. However, McIlroy preferred the company of Caroline Wozniacki, his tennis-star girlfriend, leaving his caddie to catch the next ride. Although, if he wins today, JP’s guaranteed a nice Christmas present, too.
Any Branden Grace fans wishing today to catch a glimpse of the emerging star had better swap their golf shoes for running spikes – the South African doesn’t mess about before shots. Take the 7th: Luke Donald, his playing partner, had just finished his back swing when Grace stepped up to his ball and gave it an almighty crack. As he approached his third, a marshal told the eager gallery: “Get a move on folks, this boy doesn’t hang around.”
Attendances continue to outstrip last year, the Earth Course crammed with spectators again yesterday. Friday attracted 19, 496 golf fans to watch Europe’s top 57 players (three withdrew before the event) while 21,174 wandered the fairways during the third round. The count after three days stands at 47,322.
Keen amateurs planning to garner tips on how to play the Earth Course’s tricky last hole best stay away from Martin Kaymer, Sergio Garcia, Fedrik Andersson Hed and Marcus Fraser. The foursome, undoubtedly talented, seemed in decent nick yesterday as they pitched up on the 18th tee, however each trudged off the green with double-bogey sevens. It was Garcia who probably felt most down on his luck, though – the Spaniard took two extra shots on 17, too. Ouch.