Europeans living up to Colin Montgomerie's prediction at Hazeltine

Europeans living up to Colin Montgomerie’s prediction at Hazeltine

Ross Fisher didn't make a move on Saturday, but he is one of six Europeans in the top 10.
Robert Beck/SI

CHASKA, Minn. — Where have all the Brits gone? At the start of the third round, England’s Ross Fisher was tied for second. Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter were tied for third.

On moving day, all three moved down.

Fisher and Westwood both shot 73, dropping Fisher to eighth place and Westwood to 13th. Poulter shot 76 and is tied for 26th at two over.

But what of the rest of the Europeans in the field? Earlier in the week, Colin Montgomerie, the 2010 Ryder Cup captain, predicted a successful tournament for his future charges.

“We have a fantastic wealth of talent in Europe now, more than I’ve ever witnessed in my 22 years, and I’m looking to have four or five in the top 10. But I’m expecting bigger and better things from our top players. Not just to compete in this championship, but to contend on Sunday afternoon coming down the last few holes.”

Monty’s prediction is looking good on the eve of the final round. There are six Europeans in the top 10 — Ireland’s Padraig Harrington (-6), Sweden’s Henrik Stenson (-4), Denmark’s Soren Kjeldsen (-3), Spain’s Alvaro Quiros, Germany’s Martin Kaymer and Fisher (-2).

Harrington, once again, has the best chance at the title, but this time he has to contend with Tiger Woods.

“To get a win, you’ve got to beat him by three tomorrow; that’s a tall order,” Harrington said. “Everybody wants to see a battle. Everybody hopes the underdog catches up. But when he catches up, ultimately, they want the hero to win, as usual. That’s the way all the storybooks are written. I get the impression there’s a lot of people cheering me on, wanting me to push him along, but they still want Tiger to win.”

Keeping Harrington company on the leaderboard is Stenson, who won the Players Championship this year and memorably stripped to his underwear to hit a shot out of the mud at the WGC-CA Championship.

“If I can be up there within three of the lead when we turn into the back nine, it’s time to play a little bit more aggressive, make a couple of putts and see what happens,” he said.

Denmark’s Soren Kjeldsen has won four times in Europe, including this year’s Andalucia Open. What about Spain’s monster hitter, Alvaro Quiros? Is he ready to win here?

“I can feel it, yes,” he said. But then he changed course. “You can see I’m far away from Tiger. It’s a long way to try to beat him. Everyone is saying he’s not the same Tiger as five years ago. I still think he’s the one. The best by far. He’s the only one that matters.”

Monty, meanwhile, will be watching the final round from his sofa in his Scottish castle as his 2010 Ryder Cuppers try to win the year’s last major.

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