Sunday, 25 September 2011
Thomas Norret   (Getty Images)
Thomas Norret (Getty Images)

Thomas Nørret holds a two shot lead after three rounds of the Austrian GolfOpen presented by Lyoness, but plenty of players will fancy their chances going into the final round.

The Danish Qualifying School graduate carded a two under par 70 at Diamond Country Club to move to nine under for the week.

That was two better than his halfway co-leaders Robert Coles and Joost Luiten, as well as English pair Simon Wakefield and Kenneth Ferrie.

Nørret was ahead from the first hole as he birdied and Coles, Luiten and Gaganjeet Bhullar all bogeyed.

A wild drive on the eighth forced him to take a drop and the 37 year old’s subsequent bogey allowed Coles, who birdied the third and eighth, to take over the lead.

Both men birdied the tenth and bogeyed the 13th, but while Nørret holed impressive birdie putts on the 15th and 17th, Coles dropped shots at the 15th and 18th.

“It was very nice,” said Nørret, who won his only Challenge Tour title nine years ago. “I felt relaxed for most of the day. I was nervous at the beginning of the round but then hit a great approach into the first and made birdie and that really calmed me down for the rest fo the day and took the pressure off me.

“The wind was a lot stronger today than yesterday so it was a tough golf course.

“I have been playing well for a while now and making a lot of cuts but just not doing much on the weekends. I have been putting well this week and keeping it all together so it is nice to get some forward momentum on a weekend. You have to put well here but I have been working hard with my mental coach and really trying to focus on enjoying myself out there.

“I just have to go out there tomorrow and try to repeat the feeling I had today, try to relax and enjoy it. It will be tougher to do that in the final round and I weill defintely feel the pressure but that’s why I have been doing all the work on the mental side of the game. I will defintiely be talking to the mental coach tonight – hopefully we can get me over the line.”

Of the leading five, only Ferrie has won on The European Tour and he moved into contention with a joint best-of-the-day 65, highlighted by a birdie at the 15th after a tee shot to three feet.

“I am very pleased,” said Ferrie. “I played well for the fist two days and didn’t get a lot out of it but finished my back nine yesterday well to get to a couple under and then came out today and picked up from where I left off.”

Dutchman Luiten fought hard to remain in contention after dropping three shots in his first five holes, with a run of three birdies in four holes after the turn giving him a level par 72.

“Certainly not the start you are looking for but I started to hit it better and shot level par,” said the 25 year old. “I am still up there going into tomorrow so everything is still open and I can still win from here.”

Wakefield almost won this event in 2008 before sliding to sixth in the closing stages, but the Qualifying School winner gave himself a fantastic chance to atone that missed opportunity with a two under 70.

“I have a great desire to win on Tour for the first time but you can’t let that cloud things and get carried away by that,” he said. “You have to stick to the plan and routines and hope that it will be your week.”

Coles’ European Tour career goes back 15 years and over 300 events, although he almost won the Avantha Masters earlier this year.

“It wasn’t good enough,” he said. “I didn’t hit it close enough and made some mistakes out there.

“Generally I couldn’t get it close enough so it wasn’t good enough. It was tricky though. I am not disappointed with my position two off the lead, I just wish I had played a bit better.

“I really enjoy being up there and am getting used to the feeling. I am not doing it enough but you definitely learn every time that you are in these positions, even at my tender age.”

Former amateur star Tom Lewis looks set to pick up a healthy cheque in his first event as a professional – a two under 70 lifting him into a share of 23rd.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1FERRIE, KennethENG18-12
3LUITEN, JoostNED18-11
4NØRRET, ThomasDEN18-9
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