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Saturday, 08 September 2018
Day 3 Highlights - 2018 Omega European Masters

Matthew Fitzpatrick will take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Omega European Masters as he looks to become the first player to successfully defend the title since Seve Ballesteros.

The Spanish great lifted the trophy at Crans-sur-Sierre Golf Club in 1977 and 1978 and Fitzpatrick's third round 63 left him in pole position to emulate the 50-time European Tour winner on Sunday.

The Englishman will head into day four at 14 under, two shots clear of Frenchman Mike Lorenzo-Vera and four ahead of countryman Daniel Brooks, Dane Lucas Bjerregaard, American Doug Ghim, South African Haydn Porteous and China's Wu Ashun.

Fitzpatrick's 63 matched the lowest round of the week which was also carded by Malaysia's Gavin Green, who sat at nine under alongside South African Thomas Aiken.

The 24 year old has a remarkable record in the Swiss mountains since missing the cut on his first visit in 2014, finishing second in 2015 and seventh in 2016 before winning his fourth European Tour title here last year.

He has now gone sub-66 in eight of his 17 rounds at this event, with his bogey-free effort containing five birdies and a chip-in eagle the lowest of them all.

“It was really, really good,” he said. “I would say that everything went well today. I drove it really solid and made some great up-and-downs which has been a bit of a struggle this season to keep the round going. There were some real key ones today and that was the difference. It kept the momentum and I managed to kick on.

“He (Ballesteros) is a good man to emulate, so hopefully things go to plan tomorrow.

“You still want to put the pressure on and make birdies. You are going to have to because someone is going to come up from somewhere tomorrow, there is no doubt because you can get it going. Hopefully I'll stick to my game plan and make plenty of birdies.”

Fitzpatrick hit a lovely approach into the second and holed a monster putt on the fifth before another nice second shot into the sixth handed him the lead on his own.

Better was to come on the driveable par four next as he chipped in for an eagle and a three-shot lead but a run of seven pars left the door open to the field, and Lorenzo-Vera was the man to capitalise.

He recovered from a bogey on the second with gains on the fourth, seventh and eighth and when he added another on the tenth, he was in a five-way tie for second.

An enormous putt on the par three 13th had him alone in second and he birdied the par five next before hitting an approach to four feet on the 17th to join the lead.

Fitzpatrick hit back straight away by getting up and down from over the back of the green on the par five 15th and he then holed an incredible 40-footer on the last to give him some breathing space.

Brooks turned in 32 with four birdies and a bogey but back-to-back gains on the 11th and 12th had him in a tie for the lead, adding another birdie on the last.

Wu was another man who got to the top of the leaderboard on Saturday as he birdied the third, holed from seven seven feet on the fifth, four feet on the sixth, put his tee-shot on the eighth inside 12 feet and took advantage of the par five ninth. Back-to-back bogeys on the 11th and 12th stalled his progress but he hit back on the 14th and 17th.

Porteous birdied the second but then made nine pars in a row before making gains on the 12th, 14th and 15th in a bogey-free 66.

Bjerregaard also made a slow start with dropped shots on the first and third but mounted a comeback of his own with birdies on the seventh, ninth, 11th, 14th and 15th.

Ghim - playing just his second regular European Tour event since turning professional in June - made birdies on the sixth, ninth, 14th and 15th with a bogey on the seventh.

Birdie bursts were the order of the day for Green, making three in a row fro the seventh and four in a row from the 13th, while Aiken recorded six birdies and two bogeys in a 66.

Italian Nino Bertasio, Spaniard Nacho Elvira and Japan's Hideto Tanihara were six shots off the lead.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1FITZPATRICK, MatthewENG18-17
2BJERREGAARD, LucasDEN18-17
3LORENZO-VERA, MikeFRA18-15
4ELVIRA, NachoESP18-12
5BROOKS, DanielENG18-11
T6TANIHARA, HidetoJPN18-10

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