Pablo Larrazábal regained the lead he shared 24 hours earlier to be frontrunner going into the last round of the BMW International Open at Golf Club Gut Lärchenhof near Cologne.
Larrazábal, the 2008 Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year who has not dropped a shot during the tournament, made just one gain in his first 12 holes but then birdied four of five from the 13th as the course dried out following persistent rain.
The Spaniard, one of four players sharing Friday’s overnight lead on 12 under, had lost his advantage by the time he teed off after an hour and 40 minute delay brought about by the threat of lightning.
That was mainly because Australia’s Richard Green was in the process of shooting the lowest round of the week, a ten under par 62 that put him 14 under.
Larrazábal, perhaps inspired by having birdied holes 13 to 17 on Friday, almost repeated his feat of the previous day. Although he could not quite manage that, he moved clear of Argentina’s Emiliano Grillo, another of Friday night’s leaders.
Grillo had been outright pacesetter in a congested leaderboard on Saturday, but bogeyed the 12th and last as Larrazábal drew ahead.
Grillo therefore dropped back to be part of a group of six on 14 under, three strokes behind Larrazábal who finished with a 67.
Most notable among that chasing pack was world number two Henrik Stenson. Like Thomas Bjorn and Carlos del Moral on the same score, Stenson went round in six under par. Robert Karlsson and Rafa Cabrera-Bello, another of Friday’s leaders, made up the half dozen poised to challenge on Sunday.
Due to the threat of a storm on the final afternoon, play is set to begin at 7am local time with a two tee start. Larrazábal, who finished seventh in last month’s BMW PGA Championship, should tee off at 8.50am.
Initially reflecting on a sole birdie in his opening 12 holes, Larrazábal said: “My game wasn't good today. I didn't hit the driver good. I put myself in a little bit of trouble. But I knew how to handle it and how to keep it going.
“I made some birdies coming in, and to, you know ‑ I can play better golf. But I cannot ‑ playing like I played, I cannot score better.”
Having started his round in wet conditions, he added: “You know, it was spinning back three, four metres with a seven, eight iron.
“These days where it was releasing but yeah, three, four, five metres with the same irons, and now they are spinning back.
“So yeah, it was tough at the beginning to know how to plan those shots, but yeah, I saw it out.”
Green, who played the round of the day, also spoke about the impact of the rain.
“Compared to Thursday afternoon when I played, it's a totally different golf course really,” he reflected.
“The course was firm on Thursday afternoon, bouncy, and now all of a sudden it's target practice now. So you can pretty much fly it at any pin and stop it right there.”
Green was about to make a simple putt for eight gained shots in as many holes when play was suspended for an hour and 40 minutes.
On the resumption, he knocked that in and made par at the last for a brilliant round that was one better than Paul Casey’s earlier in the day.
Green said: “I had already set that up prior to the siren going off and the weather delay. I just had to make that six foot putt afterwards and move on to 18. It was probably nice to sit on that over the break.”
He added: “It's always nice when you get it going and a score comes off like that. It's what we strive for every day and it's a fantastic feeling.”