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  Sunday, 21 July, 2002, 15:05 GMT 16:05 UK
Evans thrills Muirfield
Gary Evans of England celebrates his par putt on the 17th
Evans' adrenalin came to the fore at the 17th

Gary Evans played the round of his career to put himself in a strong position at The Open.

The 33-year-old from Sunningdale, Berkshire, who started the day at one over, compiled a blistering 65 to end his tournament at five under par.

That was despite bogeys at the first and last hole.

Evans subjected himself to some intense drama during the final two holes, which included losing a ball at the 17th.

"I'm just stunned at the moment," said Evans.

Evans, who has yet to win a tournament in his 10-year career, said that the round was for a friend suffering poor health.


I have just never shaken over a putt like that one at the last
Gary Evans

"I want to dedicate that round to John Harris who is back home - top boy."

Midway through his inward nine, he took the outright lead, going to six under par, after his eighth birdie of a sensational round.

But perhaps the moment of his entire round came at the par five 17th.

Evans' second shot disappeared into the rough and after spending five minutes searching for his ball, he had to declare it lost.

After taking a penalty stroke, Evans knocked his fourth shot - from the same place as he had taken his second - onto the green for what looked like a very outside chance of a par.

But his putt, from at least 35 feet, rolled into the cup to give him an outrageous five.

He celebrated with undisguised glee.

"I was walking up to the green at the 17th and my mate had given me a link word (which I tried to memorise) - 'strong like a bull'," said Evans about the putt.

"I just tried to focus on it."

He also shouted 'that was for you mum,' into a television camera.

More drama followed at the 18th, as he pushed his tee shot into the familiar Muirfield rough on the right side of the hole.

Attempting to lay-up from there, he put his second into the thick rough on the left side.

The inexperienced Evans watched in agony when his third shot landed on the green, before sliding off and stopping just a yard short of the bunker.

After chipping eight feet past the pin, a drained Evans sank his bogey putt for the clubhouse lead.


I have just never shaken over a putt like that one at the last
Evans on the putt at 18

The strain of the finish clearly showed on his face, as he turned to thank his caddy and shake hands with playing partner Scott Verplank.

"I have just never shaken over a putt like that one at the last," said Evans.

"All I thought was get it over the hill and give myself a four footer for bogey and a chance.

"I don't care whether I win or come third - I'm just pleased its over."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Gary Evans
"I am stunned at the moment"
Open Champion Ernie Els
"I thought my chance of victory had gone"
BBC Sport Online's Open Golf Championship news section

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