Friday, 19 March 2010
John Bickerton holds a one stroke lead over fellow Englishman Stuart Little going into the final round of the Abama Open de Canarias in Tenerife with both players chasing a maiden Tour victory.

Bickerton looked to have lost the lead when he three putted the 17th but soon found a himself back on top when Little double bogeyed the last hole of the spectaculoar Abama course. Bickerton’s 69 took him even under par 206 with Little one back after a 72.

Bickerton has finished runner-up five times on The European Tour since 1993, enjoying his best season in 1999 when he twice finished second before ending the season in 20th place on the Order of Merit.

This year he currently occupies 118th spot on the Order of Merit and needs to finish well to climb into the top 115 to retain his European Tour card. A top five finish would do the trick for the 35 year old from Droitwich but he said: "Hopefully I'll just be able to focus on trying to win. It would be so nice to break the mould.

"It's nice to feel the nerves again. I missed a couple of shots which was a bit frustrating, but there is still a long way to go.

"Tomorrow I'll be refreshed, concentrate on what I'me doing and play one shot at a time. It's been a while not being on this position, it's nice to be back."

Little, who made his European Tour debut 18 years ago, has no worries about his card, but has never finished higher than sixth in any tournament. He currently stands 74th on the Order of Merit and has his sights on climbing into the top 60 to earn a place in the season-ending Volvo Masters at Valderrama.

"Until the last five holes I've played pretty good. The rain delay could have affected me but it was the same for everybody. I let the momentum go, but that's the way it goes. Tomorrow, try to play well, wait and see."

Joint third on five under par are two more English players, Simon Hurd and Mark Roe, and Spain's Jose Manuel Carriles, who had a best-of-the-day 66 in the rainy conditions.

Roe, whose twin daughters were today celebrating their birthday, is playing his 500th tour event and at 117th on the money list can avoid a return to the qualifying school with a top five finish as well. But first needs to hole a few putts.

"I cannot hole one putt!" he said. "If I could just putt well one day. From the green, I am playing as good as I've played for several years. The twins are having their birthday party today. I've asked them to save a piece of cake for me, I will eat it at home on monday, hopefully with champagne."

Carilles leads the home challenge as he too chases a first victory, carding a 66 to move right into contention, his score helped by an eagle on the 13th where the ball spun back into the hole.

"Tomorrow I'll try my best and I hope I can cope with the pressure," said the Spaniard. "I'll try to put the ball into the right places and not change my strategy."

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1CHAPMAN, RogerENG18Par
2PERSSON, MagnusSWE185
3BICKERTON, JohnENG18-10
T4LITTLE, StuartENG18-5
T4KIRK, MichaelRSA18-5
T6AXGREN, JohanSWE18-4
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