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Golf | European Tour

Alejandro Canizares © Gallo Images

Canizares holds off Westwood charge



Wentworth, battered by wind and rain this week, almost turned into the Costa del Sol on Saturday so perhaps it was no shock to see Spain's Alejandro Canizares set the PGA Championship pace.

The son of former Ryder Cup stalwart Jose Maria moved one stroke ahead of Lee Westwood after six birdies and two bogeys secured a third-round 68 and a nine-under tally of 207 on a sun-kissed day at the European Tour's flagship event.

Former world No 1 Westwood, bidding to win the tournament for the first time on his 20th appearance, was alone in second place after a 67 and will be the favourite to lift the coveted trophy on Sunday.

Italy's Matteo Manassero (69) and Briton Marc Warren (70) were a further shot adrift on 209 while Sergio Garcia, the talk of the town following his racism row with Tiger Woods, was lurking ominously on 211 after a 68.

Canizares has only one previous win to his credit, in the 2006 Russian Open, but he gave a bullish opinion of his chances of hanging on to the lead in the final round.

"This sport has proven that it's not always what it looks like and it's not always what it should be," he told reporters.

"This sport is a very special one and anything can happen and anybody can win.

"Lee's had a great career and everybody will expect him to win but, in the end, nobody knows."

It would be a remarkable accomplishment if Canizares could triumph because this is his first outing since he was diagnosed with viral meningitis at the start of the month.

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ALL CLEAR

The Spaniard has recently been given the all clear by doctors but he is still not 100 percent.

"I'm just a little more tired than normal," said Canirares. "Every now and then I get a little weird feeling in my head.

"I'm not at full strength but it's working for me so I'm not going to complain. Hopefully it stays like that and I feel weak tomorrow as well," he added with a smile.

For a player of his high class, Westwood has a less than perfect record in the PGA Championship having managed only four top-10 finishes in 19 previous outings.

The Ryder Cup stalwart is now based fulltime in the US and said he was getting a special kick out of being back in Britain.

"There were a lot more happy faces in the crowd today," said Westwood. "A lot more people prepared to clap and take their hands out of their pockets, not trying to stay warm.

"It was one of the most fun days I've ever had on the golf course I think. The crowds have always been good when I've played in England but I felt a lot of support today.

"They must have missed me now that I live in Florida," laughed the Englishman.

Westwood said the roars of the crowd were different on home soil.

"The way the fans shout my name is slightly different than in the States, it's much more English," added Westwood.

"The crowd have got a great sense of humour over here. There is some sarcasm out there and they are witty - it's good," said the world number 12 who is looking for his first victory of the year.

Garcia, who had to issue an apology to 14-times major winner Woods after making a "fried chicken" jibe on Tuesday, was also grateful for the support of the Wentworth galleries.

"The crowds here, I don't have words to explain what I feel towards them," he added. "They have been amazing, every single tee, every single green, cheering me on, and I can never pay them back."

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