Sweden’s Peter Hanson takes a two stroke lead over South African Hennie Otto into the final round of the Jazztel Open de España an Andalucia after posting a one under par 71 on another gusting day at the San Roque Club.
Hanson extended his one stroke overnight lead to five in an outward half of 33 as his playing partner Peter Gustafsson faltered, but as the wind picked up Hanson’s lead was gradually reduced as he dropped two shots on the back nine for a seven under par total of 209.
Hanson, seeking his maiden European Tour title, got off to the perfect start, holing from 25 feet on both the first and the third holes to put himself firmly in the driving seat. Successive three putts on the next two holes temporarily slowed his momentum but he hit back with another brace of birdies on the sixth and seventh, both from ten feet to reach nine under par. A bogey and birdie on his last two holes completed an outward half of 33 and Hanson was firmly in control.
But another three putt on the tenth was followed by a fourth of the round on the 14th, allowing the chasing pack back into the hunt.
“I got off to a great start with two early birdies but then the back nine was very difficult,” said Hanson, whose best finish to date is runner-up to Luke Donald in last year’s Scandinavian Masters. “Four three putts wasn’t great and made the difference between a very good lead and two shots but overall very pleased. It was very difficult out there.
“I was aware of I had a big lead but there was a long way to go and still is. There is still a round to go. I am happy I am in the position I am. Hopefully I can win tomorrow.”
Leading the chase is Otto, the South African making the most of his limited starts as a category 12 player on The European Tour. Otto also went out in 33 thanks to four birdies and just the one bogey and came home in 36 for a three under par 69 and five under par total of 211.
Otto will also be seeking his first win on The European Tour International Schedule. Hard work in his putting has been paying off and if he can control his notoriously firey temperament round the testing San Roque layout he has ever chance.
Spain’s José Manuel Lara delighted the home fans as a four under par 68 took him into a share of third place with 1999 Open Champion Paul Lawrie at three under par. Lara’s 68 equalled the low score of the week and puts him in contention to win his national title.
“It was a little easier out there today, a little less wind and blowing from the opposite direction, but still a tough day,” said Lara. “It is one of the toughest courses tee to green we will face all year. The key is not making any worse than a bogey. You can make birdies but it is very important when you do find trouble not to drop more than one shot.
“I have given myself a chance. Tomorrow I need to do it again and see what happens.”
Lawrie, second in Portugal two weeks ago, is reaping the rewards of some hard work on his swing as he puts up another strong challenge.
“I played very well today,” he said. “I struggled the first two days but my short game got me round. But today played really well tee to green and didn’t really hole my fair share to day but holed more than my fair share the first two. It evens itself out a little.
“There are still one or two shots that are not quite right but from where we were a few weeks ago to now is night and day. I am really doing a bit of work on it and it is starting to pay dividends.”
Gustafsson lost ground with two sevens around the turn on his way to a 75 to lie on two under par 214 alongside fellow Swede Robert Karlsson and Ireland’s Peter Lawrie.