Argentina’s Daniel Vancsik will take a one shot lead into the final round of the inaugural Portugal Masters after another day of low scoring at Oceânico Victoria Clube de Golf.
The 30 year old carded a third round 68 for an 18 under par total of 198 to take the narrowest of leads over South Africa’s Charl Schwartzel and England’s Steve Webster, who posted 66 and 67 respectively for 199.
It means, for the second week running, Vancsik will take a lead into the final round of an event on The European Tour but the Argentine will want no repeat of last week’s Open de Madrid Valle Romano when he saw his hopes of a second title disappear after he carded a quintuple bogey nine on the fifth hole.
Until his victory in the Madeira Islands Open BPI in March, Vancsik had never finished higher than 16th in any European Tour - but now he has a chance to cement his best season to date on the circuit.
Two clear after Friday’s second round, he fell off the pace with an outward half of level par 36, but then birdied the tenth, 12th, 15th and 17th - and missed a chance to double his advantage on the last.
“I like this course because I can hit my driver all the time which gives me a lot of chances for birdie,” he said. “For tomorrow I will try and stay patient and if my putter is working well, I will have a good chance to win.”
Schwartzel, also chasing his second win of the year after capturing the Open de España in April, pitched in from 144 yards for an eagle three on the 17th as he produced a 66, while Webster shot 67.
Schwarztel said: “After the tee shot at the 17th I looked like I might make a six so to come away with a three was huge, that was a big turning point. There are a lot of birdies to be made out there and I feel like I’m playing well and rolling in a few putts so if I can keep my composure, I’ll have a chance.
“But there are a lot of guys out there in with a chance so I think it will be tight coming down the stretch.”
Webster’s challenge looked in trouble when he bogeyed both the 11th and the par five 12th, the latter a particularly disappointing lapse as it proved to be a hole where most players picked up at least one if not two shots.
But he showed real character to bounce back with three birdies in a row from the 15th to keep alive his hopes of his second European Tour title, following his victory in the 2005 Telecom Italia Open.
“Dropping those shots probably did me a little bit of good as I was getting a little too complacent,” he admitted. “I thought it was quite easy and then all of a sudden you go bogey, bogey and you go from contention to about 15th. It gave me the kick I needed and I was able to produce a good finish.”
One shot behind Schwartzel and Webster are Ryder Cup Swede Robert Karlsson and England's Ross Fisher, while Quinn Direct British Masters champion Lee Westwood is alongside fellow Englishman Sam Walker and Sweden’s Peter Hanson on 15 under par 201, three behind Vancsik.
Earlier in the day, Justin Rose improved his chances of winning the Order of Merit with a 66 to climb to 11 under and joint 18th.
The 27 year old needs to finish first or second to go top of the money list with one more event to come - but having started the week with a recurrence of back trouble, Rose has also suffered foot blisters during the tournament and for his second-round 70 wore trainers.
"I just looked like a fool," he said. "I didn't anticipate getting the golf shoes back on today. But I'm bandaged up, tried them on and it felt okay. It was nice to be back in them."
He grabbed birdies on the first, fourth, seventh, 12th, 14th and long 17th - where his five-wood approach carried the lake by just a few feet. "It's been a funny week, and I feel like I'm falling apart. But I'm just getting on with business - and I think 66 is the worst I could have shot.
"I felt like it could have been 10 better, but it's a step in the right direction. My back was okay until the 14th, and then it started really hurting me. But I'm trying not to think about it and I'm looking forward to the end of the year more than anything else.
"I was playing through the pain barrier a little bit, but it is actually a little bit of 'beware the injured golfer' - because it is making me swing a lot smoother and hit the ball a lot better.
"It is just more of a mental thing, with it nagging away at me. But listen, I'm done talking about it; it is what it is - we all know the story, and I just have to get myself fit."
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