Swede Raimo Sjöberg produced a grandstand finish with three birdies in the last five holes at Larvik Golf Club in Norway to take a one shot lead into the final round of the Lexus Open on the European Challenge Tour.
Sjöberg shot a one under par 71 to finish on ten under par 206, one clear of three home favourites in Norwegians Jan-Are Larsen, Lars Brovold and the amateur Tage Johansen along with Dane Peter Ankersoe.
After a solid start with birdies at the third and fifth, Sjöberg dropped a shot on the sixth. Although he countered that bogey with a birdie on the very next hole, he stumbled early on the back nine when he found water on the par three 12th in his way to a double bogey. A further shot slipped away at the 13th but he hit back over the last five holes.
One shot was clawed back at the 14th and then another at the 16th, where he holed from 20 feet, and again at the last where another 20 footer propelled him to the top of the leaderbaord going into the final round.
“It was a bit of a rollercoaster round,” said Sjöberg, who has recently returned from a two year break from competitive golf following the death of his mother. “I struggled a bit in the middle but coming in I managed to produce some of the same shots I played the first two days. It would be great if I could go ahead and win but just need to take one day at a time.”
Larsen, Norway’s leading golfer, will arguably be the favourite for the title on home soil. The former European Tour player fired five birdies and just one bogey on his way to a four under par 68.
The amateur Johansen, playing only his second Challenge Tour event, fired a third successive 69 to join Larsen on nine under par with Brovold, who played on The European Tour last year, completing the Norwegian trio in joint second place after a round of 70.
Ankersoe will also start the final round one adrift of Sjöberg after a round of 71 while Swede Fredrik Söderström charged through the field with a seven under par 65 having just survived the cut to lie in the group of four players two shots back at eight under par.
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