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Saturday, 07 September 2019
Robert Macintyre   (Getty Images)
Robert Macintyre (Getty Images)

Robert MacIntyre dug in deep to keep his name at the top of the leaderboard but was joined by home favourite Bernd Ritthammer heading into the final round of the Porsche European Open.

MacIntyre shot a flawless 65 on Friday to start the day with a four shot advantage, but saw that lead evaporate at the turn as he carded two bogeys while playing partner Ritthammer rolled in two birdies.

Ritthammer showed nerves of steel as he surged two shots ahead with five holes remaining before a wobble from the German let MacIntyre and Ryder Cup star Paul Casey back in at eight under.

However, the final group remained composed as they birdied the last to move one shot ahead of the World Number 17 at Green Eagle Golf Courses.

“Things didn’t go my way today,” MacIntyre said. “I fought well until the end. It doesn’t matter where I am on the leaderboard, bottom or top, every point counts. Today I just showed my fight and to birdie the last was huge to get a tie for the lead.

“It’s just about the belief. I’m going to go out there tomorrow and play my best golf. If it’s enough, it’s enough. If it’s not, it’s not. We are always going to learn and today was a huge learning experience.”

Ritthammer started the day four shots adrift of MacIntyre but soon reduced it to just one after three holes.

The Scot was forced to save par at the first but Ritthammer produced a stunning approach to six foot from the fairway bunker following a wayward tee to cut into his playing partner’s lead.

The gap was cut to two shots when MacIntyre found the sand at the par three second and carded his first bogey in 27 holes to fall back to ten under.

A three putt at the next saw the Scot slip to nine under as Ritthammer reduced the deficit to one stroke with a confident par.

The pair parred the next five before the German fired in a superb approach from the rough to five feet to roll in his second gain at the ninth to sit alongside MacIntyre at the top of the leaderboard.

Both players began their back nine with a bogey - Ritthammer’s first of the round - but when he responded with a fine birdie from the fringe at the 11th, he took the outright lead at nine under.

The 32-year-old, who had never led a round on the European Tour, moved to ten under when he landed his approach to three feet at the 12th for another birdie.

However, the leader began to feel the pressure as he enter the final stretch as he found a greenside bunker the 14th for his first dropped shot of the round before hitting his tee shot into water at the next to drop down to eight under.

It looked to be a three way tie heading into the final round, but Ritthammer confidently rolled in from eight foot for a birdie and MacIntyre recorded his first gain of the day at the last to nudge ahead.

“There are a lot of thoughts going through my head right now but it was definitely an experience for me,” Ritthammer said.

“We have fantastic crowds out there. I got a lot of support today, which is unbelievable.

“I’m not used to leading an event on the European Tour. It was tough on the back nine but those last two or three holes were back to good golf and hopefully I can continue that tomorrow.”

Casey hit successive birdies from the second but handed a shot back at the fourth with a missed shot putt to get to six under.

The Englishman rolled in a birdie at the seventh to get back to seven under before dialling in to three feet at the 11th to momentarily move to co-leader at eight under with MacIntyre and Ritthammer.

He should have joined the German at the top on nine under when he shoehorned a putt for a gain at the next but dropped a shot at the 13th instead.

Casey picked up the shot with a stunning tee shot at the 14th to five feet to get back to eight under and did remarkable to stay there after finding the water at the 15th.

The 13 time European Tour winner could not improve his score despite birdie opportunities on the final three holes.

Spaniard Pablo Larrazábal mixed seven birdies - including a superb chip in at the 17th - to finish on seven under alongside Austria’s Matthias Schwab, with Englishman Ben Evans one shot further adrift and Dane Jeff Winther and Italian Guido Migliozzi at five under.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1CASEY, PaulENG18-14
T2SCHWAB, MatthiasAUT18-13
T2MACINTYRE, RobertSCO18-13
T2RITTHAMMER, BerndGER18-13
5WIESBERGER, BerndAUT18-12
6WATTEL, RomainFRA18-11

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