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Andrew Dodt takes lead at BMW PGA Championship

Dodt plays his approach to the final hole today with caddy Dimi Papadatos watching on (Photo: Getty Images)
Queenslander Andrew Dodt is the surprise 54 hole leader at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, a third round of 68, the second best of the day in windy conditions around the revamped West Course layout, leaving the 31 year old one shot clear of South Africa’s Branden Grace who is in turn two ahead of Francesco Molinari and Lee Westwood.

Dodt, who has put together several good finishes since a decision to desert his near obsession for perfection and too much focus on technique towards the latter half of last year, was home in 4 under 33 on a day when most were struggling to handle the blustery winds and he has opened the door for his third European Tour title and what a win it would be.

This event, given its status as the flagship tournament of the European Tour, carries total prizemoney of US$7 million and with a first prize of US$1.25 million and the additional benefits of such a significant victory Dodt faces the most important day of his golfing career tomorrow.

Further, if Dodt was able to go on and win tomorrow he would move from his current 251st in the world ranking to just outside the top 70.

Dodt began working again with Australian Sport & Exercise Psychologist, Andrea Furst in August of last year after working with her earlier as an amateur and today he utilised much of his new found approach to the game.

“I've been working pretty hard on the mental side and I think that helped me today, for sure,” said Dodt. "And probably my short game, as well, I needed to tidy up a bit over the last few months, and I didn't need it too much today because my long game was pretty good. It all feels pretty good.

“It’s a lot of breathing stuff,” he added when pressed. "Trying to visualize each shot a bit more and try to get away from the technique a bit and play the game and today I felt like I played the game really well.”

“It was a goal of mine to try to follow on and keep the foot on the accelerator,” said Dodt referring to one or two very good results late last year in Australia and Hong Kong. "It has not happened yet. I feel good. My game feels good. I feel like I'm in a really good spot.

“It's going to be tough out there (tomorrow). There will be a few nerves, a lot of nerves there. Just got to try to do what I've been doing the last three days and if I can do that, I can give myself a chance.”

Another aspect assisting Dodt's game this week is that Australian professional golfer, Dimi Papadatos, who just last week won the West Australian PGA Championship in Kalgoorlie, is caddying for Dodt this week.

"I've played a lot of golf and with Dodty and we are good mates," said Papadatos. "He knew I was over in the UK this week just doing a bit of practice before US Open qualifying at Walton Heath and asked if I would mind carrying the clubs for him."

Grace also played the final nine holes well, bouncing back from an outward nine of one over 36 for a final nine of three under 34 to be just one behind and given his experience on the big stage he looms as a big threat to Dodt.

“It was pretty much try to stay alive out there,” said Grace referring to the very difficult challenge presented. “It was fun. It's a tough day and you really had to play well to shoot a decent or a good number out there today. So I'm happy with the way I played, and I'm happy with being in there with a chance tomorrow.”

Grace is still fielding questions about a free drop he took from a plugged lie in a bunker on Thursday and was keen to clarify the situation.

“To be quite honest, I don't think I did anything wrong,” said Grace. “I played within the rules. The rules official is there for a reason, and it was a valid question and he gave me the drop. I actually heard that Harrington was in the same scenario yesterday and he got relief, as well.

“So you know, I think it is something that brought the attention to a lot of guys out there that maybe didn't know about that rule but now they know. Like you say, some guys are going to love it and some guys are going to hate it. That's always the game. Like I said, I can only ask the question if he gave me relief, and he did."

Fifteen players are within five shots of the lead, that group including the Open Champion Henrik Stenson who at 4 under is just four behind the lead and perhaps yet a chance to win this event for the first time.  

Dodt’s fellow Queenslander, Scott Hend, moved from his overnight position on the cutline to 34th with his round of one under 71, further highlighting just how demanding the blustery conditions were.

Interestingly, Hend led into the final round of this event last year before finishing 15th.

 

ANDREW DODT LEADING 2016 AUST PGA

 

 

 

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