Porteous can soar to top of Albatross leaderboard
South African youngster swinging well again
Story so far
Lee Slattery leads the Czech Masters by two shots going into the final round, the Englishman reaching 12 under par through 54 holes at the Albatross Resort, Prague.
Slattery was a 66-1 chance at the outset, but is no bigger than 13-10 going into the final day, seeking a third European Tour title at the age of 39.
The 2011 Madrid Masters and the 2015 Russian Open are the two previous victories of Slattery. His wife is ten days overdue with their second baby, so a double celebration could be on the cards.
Haydn Porteous, whose only European Tour triumph came in the 2016 Joburg Open, is alone in second place. There is a further two-shot gap to Swedish maiden Pontus Widegren in third. Ante-post favourite Thomas Pieters is in 30th place, ten shots off the pace, and a 200-1 chance for a miraculous come-from-behind success.
-12 Lee Slattery
-10 Haydn Porteous
-8 Pontus Widegren
-7 Chris Hanson, Jonathan Thomson
-6 James Morrison, Callum Shinkwin, Julian Suri, Martin Wiegele, Jeff Winther
13-10 L Slattery, 11-4 H Porteous, 14 P Widegren, 22 J Suri, 25 C Hanson, 33 J Morrison, C Shinkwin, 50 bar
Lee Slattery has been all smiles this week, the imminent arrival of a baby perhaps resulting in a more relaxed attitude to his golf, but Sunday tension is likely to hit him at some point during the final round.
Slattery is not a prolific tournament winner and his two victories have come in low-grade events. This is obviously a golden opportunity to complete a hat-trick, but prices of just 13-10 about such a limited player hold zero appeal.
Julian Suri, who won his maiden title in Denmark last Sunday, and Callum Shinkwin, who set the early pace this week, are both blessed with immense firepower and capable of making a charge from six under par. The 22-1 Suri and 33-1 Shinkwin are tempting, but the best outright option going into round four is Haydn Porteous at 11-4.
Porteous also possesses the driving distance to score well at this long, soft track, but, crucially, he is four shots closer to the lead. With just 18 holes to play, Porteous can fend off Suri and Shinkwin, and overtake the only man ahead of him.
Porteous looked set for a glorious career when he won the Joburg Open in grand style, but he tinkered with his swing and went backwards. A return to his old technique brought an upturn in form in the spring and he has looked back to his best in his last three strokeplay outings.
A share of 11th place in the Sun City Challenge was a decent effort a month ago, then he finished strongly for sixth spot in the Made In Denmark last week. He has improved his score each day in Prague – 70, 69, 67 – and can approach the final round with great confidence. The 23-year-old South African is the class act on the leaderboard.
The tournament has caught up after weather delays for a waterlogged track. Slattery and Porteous are due out in the final twoball at 12.20pm UK and Ireland time.
4pts 13-5 Betfred