SSI Err
Saturday, 17 March 2012
Eduardo De La Riva  (Getty Images)
Eduardo De La Riva (Getty Images)
Eduardo De La Riva retained his slender one shot advantage after the third round of the Open de Andalucía Costa del Sol with a 68 that left the Spaniard 12 under par.

Plenty of challengers came and went on Moving Day, but it was 29 year old De La Riva – who secured his place in the field via the Spanish Order of Merit – that claimed an advantage going into the final round.

England’s former BMW PGA Championship winner Simon Khan and Italian teenager Matteo Manassero, the first-round leader, are a shot behind on 11 under par.

It was a great display of control from De La Riva, who carded six birdies and two bogeys, and he now has a good chance to better his previous best finish of third on The European Tour at October’s Bankia Madrid Masters.

“It’s been a great day for golf,” he said. “The key has been that I’ve made very few mistakes, I only missed four short putts. 

“Playing the way I’m playing I am enjoying it – it’s easy to enjoy it playing this way. 

“I was in exactly the same position at the Bankia Madrid Masters, so tomorrow will be a normal feeling for me. I will try and play as best as I can, playing in the last group will not have any effect on my game.”

After birdieing the first from six feet, De La Riva – whose father was Spanish amateur champion seven times and mother won the Spanish junior title on three occasions - bogeyed the next but birdied the third and seventh from 12 feet to turn in 35.

Having been deposed at the head of affairs by that stage, the World Number 610 responded with an inward 33, pitching to three feet at the 14th and knocking in a six foot birdie putt at the 16th.

Manassero responded well to losing his three shot first-day advantage, a 25 foot putt at the 12th and a wedge approach to within two feet at the 14th the highlights of his five birdies.

“I played a better golf from tee to green,” said Manassero – who became The European Tour’s youngest-ever winner in Spain two years ago.

“I made quite an easy 68, if you can say that. It could have easily been a 67 with a five on 16 (his only bogey), which is routine.

“Today I played even better than the first day from tee to green and gave myself many chances. My only bad moment was three-putting 16, which pushed me back nearly two shots. The rest was all good.”

“It’s good to be up there and give me some chances tomorrow. This course is good for me, I like it, but there are many guys up there, so it's going to be fun tomorrow and I'm happy to be in it.”

Khan was another to finish well, he holed a 40 foot birdie putt at the 15th and from ten feet at the next en route to a back-nine 31 and six under par 66.

“I played nicely all through the week and if I had taken a couple more chances I would have been further up,” said Khan.

“I had a figure in my mind, and I thought that if I could play steady and pick up the birdies, that score would be possible.

“Last year’s French Open was the last time I was in position to win - hopefully it'll all come flooding back. I've had times like this before when I haven't been up there consistently and I managed to have good weekends. I'm going to enjoy it tomorrow and rely on my game."

England's David Lynn and South African Hennie Otto are another stroke back on ten under, as is local favourite and tournament promoter Miguel Angel Jiménez.

The 48 year old is trying to become the oldest winner in European Tour history on the course where he is an honorary member and added a 69 to previous rounds of 69 and 68 thanks largely to a strong finish.

After birdies at the 14th and 15th he produced one of the shots of the day at the 16th, sending a fairway wood up and over the trees and to within five feet before sinking his eagle putt.

“Today I started like a donkey and finished like an Andalusian horse,” he said. “On the first nine holes I was expecting things to happen but the course gave us nothing. 

“On the back nine I said to my caddie: ‘Don’t worry, we are trying to make it happen,’ and it happened on 14. 

“I put my drive in a divot and I had to blade it a little bit. I managed to put it at the back left of the green, and then I holed that putt. The unlucky lie was my turning point - I made birdie, birdie eagle and that made my round."

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