KLM Open: Lee Westwood just three off lead after third round
By Keith Jackson
Last Updated: 18/09/17 1:15am
Lee Westwood remained in contention for his first win in three-and-a-half years as Kiradech Aphibarnrat snatched the third-round lead at the KLM Open.
Aphibarnrat holed a monster putt for birdie at the last to edge one ahead of Romain Wattel on 14 under at The Dutch, while Westwood also finished with a four to end the day just three strokes off the pace.
Westwood lost ground on the leaders when he followed four opening pars with a bogey at the fifth, just his second error of the tournament, but he got the shot back immediately and added another birdie at the short eighth.
The 44-year-old, who celebrated his 500th start on the European Tour at last week's Omega European Masters, made further birdies at 11 and 13, although he missed good chances at the 16th and 18th before atoning with an excellent putt on the final green to cap a four-under 67.
Westwood entered the clubhouse two behind Wattel, who had propelled himself into a share of the lead with a sparkling run of birdies around the turn.
The French star picked up his first birdie at the sixth and then reeled off four in a row from the eighth, and further gains at the short 14th and 16th holes meant he had birdied four of the five par-threes during the round.
Wattel was unable to take advantage of the par-five closing hole, but a solid par completed a flawless 64 and the low round of the day, lifting him one shot ahead of his compatriot Joel Stalter after the overnight leader recovered from a mid-round stutter to birdie two of the last four holes and salvage a respectable 69.
But Wattel was denied a share of the 54-hole lead when Aphibarnrat drained his huge uphill putt to close out a 66 which had promised to be several shots lower following a superb burst of scoring on the outward nine.
The Thai powerhouse made four birdies in five holes from the fourth before his putter went cold, and he had to settle for a run of nine consecutive pars before his unlikely closing four lifted him to the top of the leaderboard.
Westwood shares fourth with German Sebastian Heisele and Sweden's Joakim Lagergren, while former BMW PGA champion Matteo Manassero fired his third consecutive 68 to move to nine under par.