Jon Rahm remains on course to rewrite a chapter of the history books after firing a flawless, six-under 65 to lead the 2022 ACCIONA Open de España by a shot at Club de Campo Villa de Madrid.
World Number Six Rahm, who won this event in 2018 and 2019, is trying to match the late great Seve Ballesteros by winning his national open for the third time and heads into the final round on 16 under, with the narrowest of advantages over Australia’s Min Woo Lee.
The 2021 U.S. Open Champion was two shots behind overnight leaders Stephen Gallacher and Paul Waring at the start of his round and the Spaniard birdied the fourth and picked up another shot at the seventh, despite leaving an awkward up-and-down after missing the green to the left of the par-five.
The 27-year-old made further gains on the back nine with four more birdies to his name, while his playing partner Lee shot 66 and will play with the Spaniard for the fourth time this week heading into the final round tomorrow.
The Australian, a two-time DP World Tour winner, sunk a clutch birdie putt at the last to stay one back and set up Sunday’s showdown.
Gallacher, Louis De Jager, Marc Warren, Eddie Pepperell, Matthieu Pavon and Kiradech Aphibarnrat are three off the lead on 13 under while Edoardo Molinari, who matched the low round of the week with his 63, is a shot further back with Zander Lombard.
Jon Rahm: “I’m feeling good. I’d say I wish most of my rounds could be as organised as this one right now. I don’t feel like I did anything special, maybe the up-and-down on 17, but I just played consistent golf, put the ball in play, and the few times I missed the tee shot I was never really out of it.
“I had a shot to the green and I was able to pull it off every time, so only one stressful part on 17 and besides that, there were a lot of good birdie looks and par putts in that. Like I said, hopefully I can play another round like that tomorrow because I felt like I kept going shot by shot and I was six under.
“It’s been great, we have played really good golf both of us. He (Min Woo Lee) had that bad start on the front nine on Thursday and has played amazing since then, I had the bad start on my front nine on Friday, and everything else has been great golf. It is easy to feed off each other right, you know every time one of us is in the fairway we are going to have a birdie look, so you know birdies are coming. We have both been getting up-and-down from a lot of spots, he has had two hole outs, I’ve had one, and some really good shots besides those that we holed out.
“Well hopefully my best round can be tomorrow. Let’s hope for that and have an enjoyable walk down 18. That would be a perfect day.”
Min Woo Lee: “Yeah, it was huge, I hit a good drive and it just kind of stayed straight and bounced a little left, so it was a really nice day. I hit a few shots out there on the back nine where I thought was really good and just airmiled the green, think it was just a bit warmer yesterday and didn’t really adjust, but yeah, I held in there and that putt will make dinner taste a lot nicer, so I’m happy with the way I went today.
“I think halfway there the Spanish crowd was against me a little bit, but it’s all part of it we are all trying to inspire little kids and play the best golf we can. It’s awesome, kids back there waving, and the crowds are being awesome, and we’ve just been playing back and forth and its good for both of us.
“Yeah, of course its huge, I mean Jon has obviously won plenty of times and it’s just nice to, you know, the last three days have been pressure packed so will just go out tomorrow and do the same thing but not to change much and just keep playing the way I am.
“I guess just the crowds and showing off and hitting some good shots, like I said, this year has been a bit rough so it’s actually really nice to see the ball go where it should be. So, I am happy to be in this position and hopefully we give the crowd a show tomorrow.”
Eddie Pepperell: “It was bit more of a struggle today I didn’t feel that comfortable with my swing, struggled with my irons a bit and when I’m struggling with my irons, I’m pretty unhappy, and not cool like a cucumber. It was a good four under on the whole, obviously disappointed to miss that short one on the last that it would have been nice to get that, but four under is a good score, it was definitely trickier out there today.
“I think the scores are obviously coming to me more than they were at the start of the year, that’s obvious, but having said that, I’m a big believer in technique so I think clearly my average has stepped up and my worst shots are fewer and far between. I think what helped me out today earlier on in my round was my putting which hindered me yesterday. I tend to have this thing going on at the moment where if one thing lets me down then something else tends to fill in and that can be frustrating and it is a little bit at times but equally it shows that there are strengths across the board which are ready step in when a weakness occurs and that’s obviously as a professional golfer, that’s kind of what we’re used to.
“Well, it would mean a lot, it would certainly probably annoy a lot of people here, but, yeah, I’m just trying not to think too much about the results at the moment. I’ve kind of not been featuring as much as I feel like I should have been, I think that’s just because of the odd bad short game shot or the odd silly error, so far this week they haven’t quite occurred but it’s interesting to see how that comes out tomorrow, but I’m seeing what the process is, if I go out there and get it going tomorrow and have a chance to win that will be great and really exciting for me but equally, I’m looking forward to the next event and beyond and just keep doing what I’m doing because I think that I’m trending in the right direction again after a couple bad years, so I am just enjoying that process more than anything else.”