The Sunday Post (Dundee)
SPORT Rio dash set to pay off for Thomas?
IN midweek the SRU announced that Gregor Townsend would succeed Vern Cotter as coach of Scotland – in a year.
While few would raise an eyebrow that the Borderer has secured the top coaching job in Scottish rugby, the nature of the announcement is slightly strange.
After all, there is a whole season of rugby to complete before the changes take place.
Perhaps it is the need for control that has spurred Mark Dodson, the CEO at the SRU, to hasten the appointment.
In his announcement he spoke of the fear that Townsend might be tempted to go elsewhere, outside of Scotland to further his coaching career when his contract ran out.
So what? That might have been a good thing for Townsend – and another three years of coaching experience in the English Premiership or the French Top 14 might have been great development.
Who knows – he might even been tempted by a stint with a team in New Zealand, such is the ‘brain drain’ of coaches from Southern to Northern Hemisphere – as witnessed by Townsend’s replacement at Glasgow, Dave Rennie. BELGIUM’S Thomas Pieters is on course to make his 6000-mile dash from Rio to Prague worthwhile after establishing a two-shot lead after yesterday’s third round of the D+D REAL Czech Masters.
The defending champion, who narrowly missed out on a medal after finishing fourth on golf’s return to the Olympics last week, fired four birdies in his first 10 holes at Albatross Golf Resort before bogeying the 11th and 12th.
A two-under-par 70 took him to 12-under for the week, two ahead of American Paul Peterson.
“I think there were too many poor shots today. I started off nicely and got to four-under but then there were a couple of bad swings and I just didn’t find my rhythm at the end.
“I had some good looks at the birdie down the stretch but I didn’t hit enough good putts and the greens were a little bumpy.
“I’m not very happy with today but I’m still in front so I’m just looking forward to tomorrow and hopefully I can post a good score. It was the same last year, I was one ahead, so I’ve been in this position and hopefully I can just use what I learned the last time.
“If it plays longer it should suit me better but we’ll just take it as it comes and if it’s bad weather you’ll just have to stay patient. I feel quite relaxed out there with my caddie and we have a good game plan so everything is set to go well tomorrow.”
Peterson surged into contention with a best-of-the-week 64, with England’s Robert Rock a shot further back in third after a flawless 65 that left him alongside Dane Jeff Winther on nine-under.
Rock said: “I’m happy with that, a 65 is always good no matter what you’re doing. I think it was a little easier today, they moved the tees up on a couple of holes. But the fairways were a bit bumpier, too. It was all going rather to plan until the 17th when I hit a poor tee shot down there and I probably should have bogeyed it, but I got away withit.
“I wasn’t expecting to shoot 65 so I’ll just tee off tomorrow and see what happens. It’s a good effort and nice to move up the leaderboard but the weather will be different tomorrow so we’ll see.”
Matt Fitzpatrick, who currently occupies the ninth – and last – automatic qualification place for Europe’s Ryder Cup team, remained in the top 10 with a 71, with his seven-under total enough for a share of sixth.