Wiesberger leads Ballantine's

2012-04-28 10:52

Seoul - Bernd Wiesberger was within a round of claiming his maiden European Tour victory after running away with the lead at the Ballantine's Championship on Saturday.

The 25-year-old Austrian fired a second successive seven-under 65 to take a stranglehold on the $2.9 million tournament at Blackstone Golf Club, Icheon, near Seoul.

His three-round total of 202, 14-under-par, stretched his overnight lead to five shots over Australia's Marcus Fraser, who struggled to cling on to his playing partner's coat tails with a 69.

A further shot back were England's Oliver Fisher (67) and Chile's Felipe Aguilar (68).

Ireland's Paul McGinley set a scorching pace in the first group out on Saturday by rolling in birdies at five of his first six holes on his way to a seven-under 65, equalling the best round of the week.

But despite his great effort, which moved him up to fifth on the leaderboard by the end of the day, he was seven adrift of Wiesberger.

In calm, warm conditions perfect for scoring well under magnificently clear blue skies, Wiesberger started steadily, tapping in his first birdie on the fourth and notching another on the sixth to reach the turn in 34, two-under for his round and nine-under for the tournament.

But it was on the back nine that he got hot with the putter, rolling in a succession of birdie putts on all the even-numbered holes 10, 12, 14, 16 and 18 to move to 14-under-par - six shots clear of the chasing pack.

On the par-five 18th his second shot put him just off the green apron and he got up and down for the birdie to complete a second successive bogey-free round.

Wiesberger's previous best finish on tour came when he was runner-up to Hennie Otto in the SA Open Championship at Serengeti in November last year.

He has played steadily in 2012, but his only top 10 came in the Johannesburg Open in January, where he finished ninth, four shots behind Branden Grace.

McGinley last tasted success on the European Tour in 2005 but his spectacular round earlier in the day seemed to have given him a chance to end that drought, before Wiesberger matched the Irishman's score and drew away.

McGinley, in the first group out on Saturday, opened his third round with an amazing sequence of birdies at five of the first six holes.

He added another at the 12th before rolling in a seventh at the last to return a flawless card.

The 2002 Ryder Cup hero's last victory was at the season-ending Volvo Masters at Valderrama in October 2005.

"I got a very hot start," said McGinley. "Five under after six is a dream start. I don't think I've ever started a round like that before. From there just solid and didn't really struggle for par on any hole today, which made the birdie putts easier.

"The start was the key. The difference between shooting 70 and shooting a 65."

Leading third-round scores on Saturday in the European Tour/Asian Tour $2.9 million Ballantine's Championship, at Blackstone Golf Club in Icheon, South Korea: (Par 72)

202 Bernd Wiesberger (AUT) 72-65-65.

207 Marcus Fraser (AUS) 71-67-69

208 Oliver Fisher (ENG) 71-70-67, Felipe Aguilar (CHI) 71-69-68.

209 Paul McGinley (IRL) 71-73-65, Miguel Angel Jimenez (ESP) 72-68-69.

210 Kiradech Aphibarnrat (THA) 76-69-65, Richie Ramsay (SCO) 70-72-68, David Howell (ENG) 73-69-68, Alexander Noren (SWE) 75-66-69.

211 Gregory Havret (FRA) 76-69-66, Y.E. Yang (KOR) 74-71-66, David Oh (USA) 73-70-68, Victor Dubuisson (FRA) 68-75-68, Ian Poulter (ENG) 75-67-69, Thongchai Jaidee (THA) 71-71-69, Anthony Wall (ENG) 73-67-71.

212 Prom Meesawat (THA) 72-72-68, Siddikur Rahman (BAN) 75-69-68, Romain Wattel (FRA) 72-73-67, Soren Kjeldsen (DEN) 74-69-69, Bae Sang-moon (KOR) 75-68-69, Paul Casey (ENG) 70-72-70.

213 Brett Rumford (AUS) 73-70-70, Thaworn Wiratchant (THA) 73-70-70, Ross Fisher (ENG) 71-72-70, George Coetzee 71-71-71, Graeme Storm (ENG) 72-69-72.

214 Mikko Ilonen (FIN) 75-69-70, Shane Lowry (IRL) 74-70-70, Berry Henson (USA) 74-72-68, Richard S. Johnson (SWE) 73-73-68, Jeev Milkha Singh (IND) 72-74-68, Oscar Floren (SWE) 72-67-75.

Selected others:

215 Adam Scott (AUS) 71-76-68.

218 K.T. Kim (KOR) 73-75-70.