Foster leads BMW Open after three days, with Garcia and Goosen close

mark foster
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Mark Foster (right) went to school on Markus Brier's putting line Saturday en route to taking the third-round lead.
By
PA Sport

Series: European Tour

Published: Saturday, June 25, 2011 | 5:57 p.m.

England's Mark Foster, with fresh memories of losing three-shot leads on the final day, is two ahead with a round to go at the BMW International Open on the European Tour.

The 35-year-old from Worksop -- also the home of world No. 2 Lee Westwood -- has won only once in 278 starts on the European Tour, and that was eight years ago. But he stood 14 under par after a third-round 66 and saw his advantage doubled when joint halfway leader George Coetzee finished his 70 with a bogey 6.

That dropped the South African into a tie for second with compatriot Retief Goosen, England's Robert Coles and Spanish pair Pablo Larrazabal and back-to-form Sergio Garcia -- up from 30th with a best-of-the-day 64.

As for Sweden’s Henrik Stenson, who shared top spot overnight, he put two balls in the water on the long 11th and three-putted for a quadruple-bogey 9 before finishing with a hat trick of birdies to be five behind.

Foster was three ahead at both last year's Spanish Open and this season's Andalucian Open, but finished third and fourth, respectively.

"I know I've got it in me -- it flicks in and out," said the former English Amateur champion. "I've done it enough times to know that anything can happen.

"I've not been playing so much so I can be mentally stronger. That's my plan for this year and I will see how it goes,” he added. "That was the key today. I'm making the right decisions and if something goes wrong I'm reacting in the right way."

Garcia's charge gives him the chance not only to register his first victory in more than 2 ½ years -- he fell from second in the world to outside the top 80 in that time -- but also rescue a place in next month's British Open at Royal St. George’s.

Tied for seventh at last week's U.S. Open, the 31-year-old grabbed nine birdies after starting the day six behind and even led on his own for a while.

A top-4 finish could give Garcia one of two Open places up for grabs off a mini-money list that has been running on the European Tour for the past month. But there is hot competition for them. Foster could take one by coming in second and Coles by winning.

"I knew for British Open purposes I needed to do something special," said Garcia, who a month ago pulled out of a qualifying event in America because of an infected fingernail. "Last week was good -- it was nice to be up there in a major again.

"I didn't have a chance to win because Rory (McIlroy) was playing out of his mind, but it feels like the game is coming along and I think my putting is definitely improving."

Garcia, who made it into the U.S. Open only through a qualifying playoff, has not missed a major since the 1999 Open -- the one in which he finished dead last after rounds of 89 and 83 at Carnoustie.

Larrazabal also required first or second in the British Open battle two weeks after losing in near-darkness on the sixth hole of a qualifying playoff at Sunningdale -- against Coetzee. He led in Germany by two with three to play last year, but double bogeyed the 16th and bogeyed the 17th on that occasion.

Coles, meanwhile, was seeking his first European Tour win in more than 300 events -- four months after he was joint leader with a par to come in Delhi and then ran up a bogey.

Eighteen-year-old Matteo Manassero, meanwhile, might yet record his third Tour victory. A 66 left him four shots back, but home favorite and world No. 3 Martin Kaymer could manage only a 72 and was eight adrift.