Friday, 19 March 2010
Challenge of Ireland  (Getty Images)
Challenge of Ireland (Getty Images)

England’s Richard Bland birdied six of the last seven holes to move into a share of the lead with Denmark’s Jeppe Huldahl going into the final round of the Lexus Open in Norway.

Bland, joint runner-up in last week’s Challenge of Ireland presented by Glasson, continued his good form with an eight under par 64 at Moss & Rygge GK to move to 14 under par alongside Huldahl, who carded a 68.

“It was nice to go out on Saturday and perform to give myself a chance on Sunday,” said Bland. “Nothing much was happening on the first six or seven holes but I managed to make a few birdies on the back nine. I have putted well all week and feel very comfortable on these greens and it showed coming in.”

Bland picked up three birdies against a bogey on the front nine but roared home with five successive birdies from the 12th and then a birdie on the last put the icing on the cake.

Bland is fighting for this European Tour card on two fronts and after struggling this season on The European Tour, where he is lying 161st on the Order of Merit, he has turned his focus to the Challenge Tour in his bid to secure his playing privileges next season. Currently 15th on the Rankings where the top 20 get their European Tour cards, Bland is well aware that a good finish to the season will secure his long-term future.

“After finishing second in Ireland, I made my mind up to stay on the Challenge Tour as that is the best way forward for me,” he said. “I want to secure a top ten place on the Rankings and finish as high as possible and there are some big events coming up on the Challenge Tour over the next few weeks. I want to keep pressing forward. It is tough to turn down European Tour events because the money is so good, and we all have mortgages and bills to pay, but I have to look at the bigger picture and I believe this is my best route.

“Hopefully I can keep going tomorrow as I have been knocking on the door for a while so hopefully it will open.”

Huldahl looked to be heading for the clubhouse lead but bogeyed his penultimate hole to take the shine off a fine round that included five birdies up to that point. A third round 68 left him tied with Bland and three clear of the chasing pack.

Scot Steven O’Hara carded a 68 to sit alongside Finland’s Jaakko Makitalo (68) and Italy’s Alessandro Tadini (69) sharing third place, three shy of the leaders at 11 under par.

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