Saturday, 17 August 2019
Thomas Pieters   (Getty Images)
Thomas Pieters (Getty Images)

Thomas Pieters will take a one shot lead into the final round of the D+D Real Czech Masters after closing his third round with a brilliant birdie.

It was a round of two halves for the Belgian, who did the bulk of his low scoring on the front nine, making an eagle, five birdies - including four in a row from the fourth - and a single bogey to reach the turn in 30.

Pieters found things a bit tougher on the back nine, surrendering a bogey at the tenth after struggling to get out of the thick rough, before making a number of important par saves.

And just as it had looked as though Pieters would head into Sunday's fourth round in a share of the lead, the 2015 champion confidently knocked in his tricky 12 foot putt at the 18th to move to 16 under par and grab the outright lead.

Spanish rookie Adri Arnaus was alone in second on 15 under after notching seven birdies in a flawless third round 65.

Halfway leader Edoardo Molinari, Hugo Leon, Rikard Karlberg and Robert Karlsson sat another shot back in a tie for third.

Pieters began the day two shots behind Molinari but halved his deficit at the long first after narrowly missing his lengthy eagle putt.

The 2016 Ryder Cup star had to settle for a par at the second before dropping his first shot of the day at the short third after playing partner Molinari had somehow holed his quick uphill birdie effort from a similar distance.

But he made amends at the fourth, rolling in from four feet for a birdie before making another gain on the next.

Pieters made it three in a row at the sixth to join Molinari at the summit on 13 under before curling in his 12 foot birdie effort at the seventh to grab the outright lead.

The 27-year-old got a lucky break at the eighth, as his tee shot clattered the trees and kicked left into the short rough - and he sent his approach to ten feet to set up an extremely unlikely birdie chance.

He was unable to knock in his birdie putt but made up for that at the ninth, almost making an albatross at Albatross Golf Resort as he sent his second shot to within a couple of feet at the long ninth before tapping in his eagle putt to jump to 16 under par.

With the tenth also being a par five, big hitter Pieters would have been licking his lips as he began the back nine - but his second shot landed in the thick stuff and he could not get out of it with his third effort.

That saw him drop his second shot of the day and, after doing well to avoid another bogey on the 11th, he safely parred his way to the 18th tee.

A delightful approach into the last saw Pieters create a closing birdie chance and he took it, coolly slotting in from distance to sign for a 66.

He said: "I think the key to that front nine was the driving. I hit it really far and straight so that was presenting a lot of birdie opportunities and a lot of short clubs into the holes.

"To convert the putt on nine after a wonderful six iron in was great, and it’s the closest I’ve come to a two on a par five.

"I got one of the worst lies I’ve had on any course – not just this course – on ten and had to take my medicine there but then I made a great four at the 11th and a great three at 13 but I struggled a bit on the back nine. I stayed patient though and got a nice birdie to finish.

"I'm still learning all the time. I’m just trying to do the same things now. If I keep driving it well I’ll keep giving myself plenty of chances and then hopefully a couple of putts can drop."

Arnaus came into the third round full of confidence after Friday's 65 and he made early birdies at the first, fourth, fifth and ninth to keep the momentum going.

His putter remained hot as he reached the turn, as birdies followed at the tenth and 11th before he picked up another shot on the short 13th to move to 15 under.

The 24-year-old created further chances as he made his way down the stretch but had to settle for five closing pars.

Arnaus said: "I felt pretty comfortable. It seems like this course is a good thing for me.

"I go out there and enjoy myself, give myself good chances and I was able to take advantage of some of them."

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1PIETERS, ThomasBEL18-19
2ARNAUS, AdriESP18-18
T3PAVAN, AndreaITA18-16
T5SCHWAB, MatthiasAUT18-14

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