x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Donaldson excited to face Westwood and McIlroy

Welshman Jamie Donaldson, still to taste European Tour success after 237 events going back a decade, took a one-stroke lead into the final round of the Omega European Masters in Switzerland.

Welshman Jamie Donaldson, still to taste European Tour success after 237 events going back a decade, takes a one-stroke lead into the final round of the Omega European Masters in Switzerland.

But if he is to end his long wait for victory he is going to have to come through the stiffest test of his career. One behind is world No 2 Lee Westwood after a best-of-the-day 64, and two back is US Open champion Rory McIlroy - no doubt fired up to make amends for bogeys at two of his last three holes.

Just when it was shaping up to be a shoot-out between the two Ryder Cup stars, Donaldson grabbed four birdies in the closing six for a 65 and 14-under-par total of 199.

"It will be awesome going up against two of the best players in the world at the moment," said Donaldson. The 35 year old turned professional after partnering Luke Donald and Paul Casey to second place in the 2000 world amateur team championship. But while they became hits in the paid ranks he suffered a serious back injury and had to go back to the qualifying school five years ago.

Last season, though, he had no fewer than nine top-10 finishes and is poised now to break back into the world's top 100.

Westwood and McIlroy were quickly off after their rounds to see other sporting interests at work.

At Haydock Park in England, Westwood's horse Hoof It finished a very close third in the Sprint Cup, while McIlroy's girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki, the world No 1, was first on court at tennis' US Open, beating unseeded Vania King.

She close things out better than McIlroy did in his third round.

"It was not the greatest way to finish," he said after three-putting the 16th and going over the green from a fairway bunker at the 17th - after taking an iron off the tee for safety.