Martin on course for Vilamoura victory

10/16/2010 5:55:36 PM
Pablo Martin  (Getty Images)
Pablo Martin (Getty Images)

Pablo Martin carded a nine under par 63 to race into a three shot lead with a round to play at the Portugal Masters.

On another day of low scoring on the Algarve, the Spaniard raced out of the blocks with two eagles and a birdie in his first five holes, before registering four unanswered birdies on the back nine.

 “You need to get off to a good start in the first nine holes,” said Martin. “I think it was something like four or five under par the front nine, which is what I did today. 

“Five under par and a couple of eagles in the first two par fives, so that will keep you going. You can make some birdies in the back nine, but the front nine, with the wind, there's some holes that if you hit it on the fairway, you've got some pretty good chances to make some birdies.”

In 2007 Martin became the first amateur in history to win on The European Tour but then suffered a loss of form for two years and was on the verge of losing his card this time last year.

But he finished the season well and completed his return to form with victory in the first event of The 2010 Race to Dubai at the Alfred Dunhill Championship.

And he was in scintilating form at Oceanico Victoria Golf Course - particularly with the putter as he holed birdie putts of over 25 feet at both the second and 11th.

On 18 under par, Martin is three clear of Jeppe Huldahl and Oliver Wilson.

Dane Huldahl equalled The European Tour record for birdies in a single round with 12 as he shaved five shots of his previous best score in a round of 61.

The former Celtic Manor Wales Open champion started the day nine shots behind halfway leader Maarten Lafeber having birdied his two closing holes on Friday just to make the cut.

The 28 year old went on a magnificent birdie blitz from the 11th with seven in a row, the run only coming to a halt with a par four at the difficult closing hole.

It was a remarkable turnaround for a man who, on Thursday, ran up a quadruple bogey eight on the seventh after some confusion over whether his ball had entered a hazard and was four over at the turn in his first round as a result.

"Should have only cost me two, but I lost my head, as well, so it cost me four I guess," Huldahl said of Thursday's incident. "It was a rough start.

"With two to go yesterday, I had a feeling I had to birdie the last two, and got in. And then this morning, figured well, just go with the same mind set and think about birdies and sort of just happened.

"I didn't putt particularly well the first two rounds. And today, I just sort of started seeing the lines again, and started on it with the right pace and just dropped in the middle every time."

Wilson, nine times a runner-up on The European Tour but yet to win, put himself in a good position once more as the Englishman added a 65 to rounds of 70 and 66.

The 30 year old managed a bogey free card, completing his scoring with a seventh birdie of the day from eight feet at the penultimate hole.

“I played lovely today - I got off to a really good start,” said the former Ryder Cup star. “Hit two great shots into two, three feet on the first and that was nice, which just played steady, had a little bit of an up and down patch in the middle, missed a few greens but chipped it stone dead on all of those. All in all really pleased.”

South African Thomas Aiken and Finn Mikko Ilonen share fourth on 14 under, while halfway leader Lafeber is joined by compatriot Joost Luiten, in-form Englishman John Parry and local pro Ricardo Santos a shot further back.