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Saturday, 11 August 2001
Sweden's Klas Eriksson fired a faultless 66 to take the lead with a round left of the Talma Finnish Challenge near Helsinki. The 30 year old is on nine under par 207, a shot clear of Londoner Gary Clark, whose five-birdie 69 gives him a great chance of landing his maiden Challenge Tour title.

"My putting was fantastic today," said Eriksson. "I only missed one green and I holed a lot of putts from around 15 feet. I'm at the top of the leaderboard where I want to be. Now I've got to stay there."

Clark might have something to say about that. After going out in 34, Clark, also 30, made little headway until he rolled in a 10-footer for birdie at the 17th to get to eight under, which at the end of the day could prove vital.

"I played nicely, and didn't make any real mistakes, but I didn't hole any putts over the back nine," he said. "A lot will depend on the weather tomorrow. If it is wet and still, as it was this morning, then the scores will be low. But if the wind gets up, as it did on the back nine, then anything can happen."

Overnight leader, Alberto Binaghi drove into water on the final hole to drop a shot in a 72 for 209 and joint third place alongside Dutchman Niels Kraaij, who stormed round in 67, and Marten Olander, from Sweden, who signed for 70.

Binaghi had one of those days. He bogeys two of the opening holes, both after pulled drives, but was still vying with Eriksson until the drama at the last where he did well to get down in five, chipping close for a tap-in bogey.

Kraaij had seven birdies in his 67 and said: “For the first two days I played really bad, but today it was good. I changed my left-below-right putting grip to a normal style yesterday and it was much better.”

Olander got to seven under after 11 holes but then ran into successive bogeys, failing to get-up-and-down at the short 12th after missing the green, then duffing a wedge shot at the long 13th and taking six.

However, he roared back with two birdies in the final three holes, both with 15-foot putts, for his 70.

Another Swede, Per Larsson, got to seven under with birdies at the 16th and 17th. But he three-putted the 18th to drop back into a tie fir sixth on 210 with England's Ben Mason, who birdied the 16th and 17th for a 70.

"I could have hit the ball better but I putted well," he said. "I holed from eight feet at 16 and sneaked one in from 20 feet at 17. Hopefully I can hit the ball better tomorrow and still putt as well."

Overall it was a good day for the Swedes. Andreas Ljunggren came in early with a 66 with six birdies and no bogeys to set the target at five under 211. “That is my best score of the year,” he said. “I just got my putter going and hopefully it’s the start of better things.”

There was more Swedish success as Paul Nilbrink and Johan Edfors carded 67s, while Raimo Sjoberg signed for 68.

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