Sep 29, 2019: Victor Perez and Matthew Southgate showed all of their links pedigree on day three of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship to share a two shot lead heading into the final round on Scotland’s east coast.
Frenchman Perez carded a second 64 of the week at Kingsbarns Golf Links to move to 20 under and was joined at the top of the leadeboard by Southgate after the Englishman birdied his final hole in a 65 at St Andrews.
England’s Paul Waring was then at 18 under after a brilliant 65 at Carnoustie, a shot clear of American Tony Finau and Swede Joakim Lagergren, both of whom played St Andrews in round three.
Born in the seaside town of Southend, Southgate’s familiarity with links golf comes as no surprise but Perez – who hails from the landlocked town of Tarbes – has taken a less direct route to master the coastal game.
The 27-year-old moved to Dundee last year to be with his girlfriend and admitted after his opening 64 at St Andrews that he had been truly getting to grips with links golf after moving to the east coast.
He continued to show his prowess with a 68 in round two at Carnoustie and after a third round containing nine birdies and a single bogey, he will be looking to add a first European Tour title to his two Challenge Tour wins.
“It’s just being at home and comfortable and all the little things that come with it,” he said. “You drive your own car and sleeping in your own bed, a huge thing when you travel around and being in hotels all the time.
“I feel also the wind, just being comfortable with knowing that, ‘okay, this is 25 yards of wind into the wind’ and just trusting the numbers, I think that plays an advantage.
“It’s definitely what we practise for. It’s the home of golf, in the final group. What more to ask?”
Southgate produced one of the stories of the 2015 season as he came through all three stages of Qualifying School just months after undergoing surgery for testicular cancer.
In 2016 he had a top five finish at Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and finished 12th at The Open Championship before further enhancing his links reputation by finishing second and sixth in those events the following season.
“We’ve played 54 holes and 51 of them haven’t looked like dropping a shot, really,” he said. “It’s been pretty special stuff tee to green and sticking to the game plan and ticking a lot of boxes.
“I’m so passionate about winning tournaments and being here at the home of golf tomorrow is going to be a difficult one to just keep myself in check and keep producing what I have done the first three days. The biggest job tomorrow is going to be keeping me in check rather than the golf swing.”
Waring had birdied the tenth and 12th before an eagle on the par five 14th had him within one of the lead.
It’s definitely what we practise for. It’s the home of golf, in the final group. What more to ask? – Victor Perez
He birdied the third to get into a four way tie at the top and when he holed a long putt on the next he held the solo lead – but Perez was making his move.
Gains on the 12th, 16th and 18th saw him turn in 33 before birdies on the second and third moved him up the leaderboard.
Waring holed a 30 footer on the eighth to edge back ahead but Perez replied from ten feet on the fourth to join him.
A 12-footer on the fifth and a tap-in on the sixth had Perez at 20 under after five birdies in a row and while he three putted from the fringe at the eighth, he responded with a two putt birdie on the par five ninth.
Southgate birdied the tenth and 13th but gave a shot straight back before making further gains on the 17th and 18th.
Birdies on the first, fifth and sixth had him stalking the leaders and he drove the par four ninth to take a share of top spot.
Finau carded a 66 and Lagergren a 68 to sit a shot ahead of English duo Luke Donald and Jordan Smith, and Italian Andrea Pavan.