This time I must close the deal, says McGrane

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 20 April, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 20 April, 2008, 12:00am

Irishman Damien McGrane knows what it's like to lead tournaments. He also knows what it's like to have the world watching your every move, having been paired with Tiger Woods in the Dubai Desert Classic.

Now the European Tour 'ironman' is hoping his time has arrived.

McGrane takes a three-shot lead into the final round of the US$2.2 million Volvo China Open today and is banking on his experience winning the day.

The 37-year-old will have to fight off young guns Oliver Wilson (England) and Michael Lorenzo-Vera (France), both on eight under, if he is to achieve his maiden victory in the co-sanctioned European and Asian Tour event.

'I have led tournaments before, it's part and parcel of the game,' said McGrane, who added another four-under 68 in the third round at the Beijing CBD International Golf Club yesterday. He sits at the top at 11 under.

'I have to use that experience and push on and do better this time around,' he said.

'It nice to go out as the leader and having a little cushion is good. I'm hoping for that maiden win. The sooner it comes, the better.'

McGrane played with Woods in the third round in Dubai in February and outscored the world number one. Woods went on to win, but McGrane went in the other direction on the final day. A week later McGrane finished second in the Indian Masters in New Delhi and his peers have noticed a change in the Irishman.

'I have confidence in my own ability,' said McGrane, who has the most starts (13) on the European Tour this year and is the one of the most consistent performers - he lies 18th on the money list with Euro311,000 (HK$3.83 million).

McGrane has brought that consistency to China with rounds of 68-69-68 for a three-round total of 205.

McGrane, who started the day one shot behind overnight leader Lorenzo-Vera, had seven birdies in his round, the closing two basically turning China's national open into a five-horse race.

Australian Scott Strange, who shot the day's best round of 66, is at six under and New Zealander Mark Brown (69) is at five under.

Wilson (70), meanwhile, knows he has to make some birdies. 'I've got a chance and I'll try to keep the pressure on,' he said.

The big mover of the day was Strange, who raced up the leaderboard, but will need another faultless round today.

The prospect of China hailing a home hero disappeared when Asian Tour champion Liang Wenchong struggled to a one-over 73 and trails McGrane by nine shots.

'My aim now will be to improve on my best finish in the event as a pro, which was tied for eighth in 2002,' said Liang.