Omega European Masters: Craig Lee misses out on historic 59 in Switzerland
Last Updated: 08/09/13 11:58am
Craig Lee: Out in 28 and the third-round lead, but no record
Scotland's Craig Lee became the latest man to threaten the European Tour's first sub-60 round before falling short, but his consolation is a two-shot lead at the Omega European Masters.
The 36-year-old - still winless on the European Tour - shot a stunning outward 28 in the third round at Crans-sur-Sierre to race to the top of the leaderboard and added three more birdies in the next five holes.
But needing two birdies on the final two holes to make history, the Scot couldn't keep his hot-streak going and finished par-par for a 10-under 61.
Nevertheless, that was good enough to give him a two-shot lead over Spains's Alejandro Canizares, Frenchman Victor Dubuisson and Dane Thomas Bjorn heading into Sunday's final round.
Lee had flown out of the blocks with eight birdies in his opening nine holes, his incredible run only ended by a par on the seventh hole.
Third round leaderboard
GB & Ire unless stated)
-16 C Lee
-14 A Canizares (Spn)
-14 V Dubuisson (Fra)
-14 T Bjorn (Den)
-11 MA Jimenez (Spn)
-11 T Fleetwood
That quickly became nine birdies out of 10 when he parred the first hole of the back nine and it meant he needed to play the final eight holes of the par 71 in three-under to set the new mark.
His hopes were hit with a bogey five at 12 where he had to hole from 10 feet to avoid further damage but a stunning approach to the par three 13th got him back on track.
Another birdie - his 11th of the round - at the par five 14th put the world number 348 closer but a pulled second at the long 15th meant he missed out on another obvious birdie opportunity.
Lee parred the tough 16th after a well-executed up and down but, from a great position in the fairway at 17, he pushed his wedge and couldn't add another birdie from 25 feet.
Turned away in disappointment
That meant he had to hole his approach at 18 to record the historic 59 but the expectant crowd immediately knew the miracle hadn't happened when Lee turned away in disappointment soon after hitting his second shot.
Two putts from 30 feet gave him a course record 61 and set the clubhouse target of 16-under.
Lee said he didn't have thoughts about a 59 until walking up the par five 15th.
"I told my caddie 'You know what, a couple more and we might just make that magic number.'"
However, given the toughness of the three closing holes, he said he knew the writing was on the wall when a poor second left him scrambling for par.
"59 had gone by the time I'd hit my second shot on the par five," he said.