Syme leads Celtic Classic after late collapse from Pieters

NEWPORT, Wales (AP) — Connor Syme will take a one-shot lead into the final round of the Celtic Classic after a late collapse from Thomas Pieters on Saturday.

Scottish golfer Syme carded eight birdies in a flawless third round of 8-under 63 at Celtic Manor, the venue for the 2010 Ryder Cup, to move 15 under for the tournament.

“I played lovely to be honest,” the 25-year-old Syme told Sky Sports.

Sam Horsfield (68), who won his first European Tour title two weeks ago, is in second place.

Third-place Sebastian Soderberg (65) is two shots off the lead on 13 under.

Pieters (70) is a further two strokes back in a share of seventh in his first event for five months due to the coronavirus pandemic and the birth of his first child in July.

Pieters, who won a record four points on his Ryder Cup debut in 2016, held a three-shot lead after two eagles in the space of three holes around the turn, but ran up a triple-bogey on the 15th after topping his tee shot into heavy rough.

With the ball in an unplayable lie, Pieters was forced to go back to the tee on the short par four and pulled his third shot into a water hazard, eventually signing for a seven and then dropping another shot on the next.

Horsfield started his third round with eight straight pars, but was rewarded for his patience with birdies on Nos. 9, 14 and 16 in a bogey-free round.

The Englishman has been one of the leading players on the so-called U.K. Swing over the past month, having won the Hero Open for his first professional title and earning a top-10 finish in the British Masters.

Andrew Johnston, better known by his nickname “Beef,” had a round of 68 to share fourth with Thomas Detry (68) and Adrian Meronk (64) on 12 under.

The Celtic Classic is the fourth event of the six-week U.K. Swing, taking place in an isolated environment, after the tour resumed following a five-month stoppage because of the coronavirus outbreak.

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