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Saturday, 12 June 2010
Thomas Bjorn  (Getty Images)
Thomas Bjorn (Getty Images)

Thomas Björn put himself in prime position to land his first European Tour title for more than four years at the Estoril Open de Portugal with a brilliantly crafted third round 65.

The Ryder Cup Dane, looking for a tenth European Tour title at Penha Longa Golf Club, carded seven birdies without a dropped shot to advance to 19 under with a round to play.

Joining him on Sunday will be Australian Richard Green, whose 64 leaves him three shots adrift in second place.

Ireland's Damien McGrane went round in a bogey-free 68 to sit third on 14 under.

Björn, whose last title came at the 2006 Irish Open, turned in 34 but it was on the back nine where he raced clear of the field.

He birdied the 11th after hitting his uphill approach to six feet, then converted a four foot birdie putt at the next and completed a hattrick of gains with a 15 foot curler on the 13th.

A tee shot to six foot on the par three 17th gave him a third birdie there this week and he got up and down from the edge of the green at the 18th to complete an inward 31.

Victory on Sunday would seal a remarkable return to form for the 1997 and 2002 Ryder Cup winner - he missed six consecutive cuts before last week's Celtic Manor Wales Open, where he was in the mix for three rounds before a closing 74 left him tied for ninth. He then followed that up by securing an Open Championship spot in qualifying at Sunningdale on Monday.

“I kept my patience well, and then once the birdies started to come on the back nine, they came thick and fast. It was nice to finish with two birdies, so all in all it was a good day’s work,” said the 39 year old.

“I’ve been playing like this for a couple of weeks now, which has given me the confidence to believe in what I’m doing. Sometimes you can lose your way in this game, but it’s very nice to return to some form.

“There are times when you start to doubt if you’ll ever get back to where you were, if you go through a really rough spell. But the last few weeks have been great – I’ve really started enjoying my golf once more. I’m just going with the flow really, and I hope it lasts another day.”

Green needed just 25 putts in equalling the course record as the left-hander climbed into contention for a first win in three years.

He described his eight birdie round as "awesome", with his sublime approach to within ten feet on the ninth summing up his accuracy from tee to green.

"I managed to find the right places on the fairways and greens to give myself plenty of chances, and I seemed to take most of them," said the former Dubai Desert Classic winner.

"You get a round like that every now and then, and it's a joy to play. This course offers up quite a few birdie chances, especially if you're hitting your wedge shots nicely and getting your putter going well. Fortunately enough, I was able to do that today."

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1BJÖRN, ThomasDEN18-23
2GREEN, RichardAUS18-18
3HAASTRUP, Mark FDEN18-16
4ROCK, RobertENG18-14
5MCGRANE, DamienIRL18-13
T6CLARKE, DarrenNIR18-12
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