LONDON: Little-known Swede Jens Dantorp birdied the last three holes on Saturday to take a one-shot lead into the final round of the Scottish Open, ahead of a chasing pack including Rickie Fowler.
World number 322 Dantorp, who has not even managed a top-10 finish this season, poured in a birdie putt on the 18th late in the day to sign for a two-under-par 68 and reach 13-under par for the tournament.
Dantorp leads from a group of six players on 12-under at Gullane, including seventh-ranked American and former champion Fowler.
“It feels good to have kept the good momentum going,” said the 29-year-old. “It will be a new experience (leading), but really looking forward to it. Hopefully I’ll stay on top.”
In-form New Zealander Ryan Fox fired an excellent 63 including three birdies and an eagle on the back nine to join Fowler, alongside Matthew Fitzpatrick, German Marcel Siem, Scott Hend and Sweden’s Alexander Bjoerk.
“Tomorrow is going to be tough,” Fowler, who won the title in 2015, said. “We’ve got a pretty jam-packed leaderboard with a lot of guys within a few shots of the lead. Someone is going to have to go out and earn it.”
Englishman Tyrrell Hatton, who has previously won twice in Scotland at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, is just two shots back alongside newly-crowned Irish Open champion Russell Knox.
Scotland’s Knox will be carrying the home crowd’s hopes on Sunday, but will be full of confidence after his thrilling play-off victory over Fox last weekend in Ireland.
“Winning your home Open is a massive goal. Other than winning a major, this is right up there with the tournament you really want to win the most,” he said.
“Winning is fun and I still have not come down from winning in Ireland. Confidence snowballs in a good and bad way and obviously I’m on a good wave at the moment. Hopefully I can keep riding it.”
World number three Justin Rose is still in the hunt on 10-under after two late birdies in a 67, although reigning Masters champion Patrick Reed struggled to get going and is now six strokes off the pace.
As it stands, Dantorp, Hend and Siem hold the three qualification places on offer for next week’s British Open at Carnoustie.
England’s Robert Rock, who led overnight on 13-under, made four bogeys and a triple-bogey in a horrible seven-hole stretch around the turn to drop out of contention and finish the day on seven-under after a 76.