Garrido and Foster share three-shot lead after third round at Gleneagles

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Third-round co-leader Ignacio Garrido made five birdies Saturday despite struggling off the tee.
By
Associated Press and PA Sport

Series: European Tour

Spain's Ignacio Garrido and England's Mark Foster share a three-shot lead going into Sunday’s final round of the European Tour’s Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles.

Garrido, the overnight leader by a stroke, shot a 3-under 69, while Foster had a 68 and picked up all his shots on the par 5s to stand at 11-under 205. Each seeks his first tournament victory since 2003.

Two-time Ryder Cup star Thomas Bjorn was the biggest name among the group of players chasing Garrido on an overcast day. He shot a 71, joining Anthony Kang of the United States, Dubliner Peter Lawrie, Austrian Bernd Wiesberger and recent Spanish winner Pablo Larrazabal.

Sixteen players are within five shots of the lead on the uneven greens of the PGA Centenary Course, which will host the 2014 Ryder Cup.

Foster took advantage on the long holes, with birdies on Nos. 2, 16 and 18 and an eagle at No. 9, where he chipped in from 15 feet.

"I made a conscious effort to hit the par 5s in two," Foster said. "I didn't make a birdie outside the par 5s."

Garrido made five birdies despite struggling off the tee -- the last coming at No. 16, where he smashed a driver from the fairway through fierce rain to the center of the green to set up an eagle chance that he narrowly missed.

Kang, the only American in the 67 players remaining, followed up a second-round 66 with a 69. The Korean-born player is in 170th position in the Race to Dubai standings and needs a high finish at Gleneagles to keep his card for next season.

Defending champion Edoardo Molinari of Italy is eight shots off the lead after a 69, and tournament chairman Colin Montgomerie slipped away after a 77, leaving him at 4 over.

Garrido -- a member of the victorious European team at Valderrama in 1997 -- also was unimpressed by the standard of the greens.

"I don't think they are the best greens on tour," he said. "I think they are harder than other greens, but I think if it hadn't have rained as it has these last couple of days they would have been in good shape."
 
Foster and Garrido have played more than 450 European Tour events between them since their last wins in 2003. While Garrido has had only one top-10 finish all season, Foster has had a succession of chances to end his long drought. He led the BMW International, French Open and Scottish Open in successive weeks this summer, but finished third, second and 14th.

"I've become a serial runner-up," said Foster, whose professional career began after he helped Britain and Ireland win the Walker Cup against an American team including Tiger Woods in 1995. "I hit rock bottom when I lost the Spanish Open last year, but I've learnt from it and I look beyond winning now.

"You realize it's just the way it is. You can't influence what others do and I'm more interested in taking care of what I'm doing,” he explained. "I'm confident that if I do that good things will happen."

Bjorn and Larrazabal have both won this season, while Lawrie’s only Tour title in well over 250 starts was the 2008 Spanish Open. Wiesberger is chasing his first victory on the circuit, while Kang won the Malaysian Open two years ago.

"It's great to be back in this position. You never know when the next one is going to be," said Garrido. "The good thing is that once you've been there you know what the feeling is.

"I'm enjoying my golf lately and I will try to do the same tomorrow," he added. "I've managed not to make too many mistakes and I'm a much more solid player than when I last won."