Lawrie takes lead at Johnnie Walker, Colsaerts falls six behind in Ryder bid

Paul Lawrie at the Johnnie Walker Championship
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Paul Lawrie carded seven birdies in his round with just two bogeys on Saturday in pursuit of his second European Tour title of the year.
By
Associated Press

Series: European Tour

Published: Saturday, August 25, 2012 | 1:57 p.m.

GLENEAGLES, Scotland -- Paul Lawrie of Scotland shot a 5-under 67 in the third round of the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles on Saturday to take a one-stroke lead.

Lawrie's 12-under 204 puts him one ahead of Frenchman Romain Wattel, who shot a 9-under 63 to move into contention. Stephen Gallacher (65) of Scotland is another two shots back in the European Tour event.

Lawrie, who will be making his Ryder Cup return next month after a 13-year absence, managed seven birdies in his round with just two bogeys in pursuit of his second Tour title of the year.

"I've never been asked to answer so many questions in my life, so I must be doing something right," Lawrie said. "But I played very good today and gave myself a lot of chances with only two poor shots all day, and probably deserve five under."

Earlier this year, Lawrie won his second CommercialBank Qatar Masters title, a win that sent him to second on the European Ryder Cup points table. He has been among the automatic qualifiers ever since.

"Since being confirmed in the side this week has been a lot easier as the Ryder Cup has definitely been on my mind quite a bit, and it's impossible for it not to be," he said. "But the big difference this week is that I have just been working on my rhythm again and I'm starting to stripe the ball as I was doing at the start of the year.

"So because of all the stuff that has been going on that has been lost a little but if I can play well tomorrow and hopefully with it would be huge to have two wins in a Ryder Cup year."

If Lawrie hangs on, it will be the third straight success for a member of Jose Maria Olazabal's team following wins in the PGA Championship by Rory McIlroy two weeks ago and Sergio Garcia's triumph last week at the Wyndham Championship.

Wattel shot 10 birdies in his 9-under 63 as the 21-year old Frenchman seeks his maiden Tour success.

The Montpellier-born Wattel's round also is his lowest European Tour score by two strokes since he recorded a 65 in last year's South African Open.

"Every time you go low in a round you enjoy it, but I especially enjoyed today's round because this is a tough golf course," said Wattel. "I needed a really good score to be back in the tournament and that's what I did so I am really happy."

Belgium's Nicolas Colsaerts, despite birdies on his opening two holes, appears likely to require a Ryder Cup wildcard pick after slipping six shots behind Lawrie with a 1-under 71. He must win or finish second to secure an automatic berth.

"I am a little disappointed as I started very, very good, and I was feeling very well but went through a difficult patch at eight, nine and 10 but did finish in good fashion," he said. "But I am now going to have no choice tomorrow. I still showed passion. I still showed that I play with my guts, and you know, I'm just fighting like a dog.

"I have no idea what I need to do tomorrow. My strategy is to shoot the best round of my career, plain and simple."

Olazabal is due to announce his two wildcard picks at 1100 GMT Monday, and Colsaerts has planned a distraction to take his mind off the subject.

"I have some fly fishing set for Monday morning and that will give me something else to think about," he said.