Manassero and Noren hold narrow lead

17/04/2011 03:25:11
Matteo Manassero  (Getty Images)
Matteo Manassero (Getty Images)
Italian teenager Matteo Manassero gave himself a chance of the perfect birthday present as he claimed a share of the lead alongside Alex Noren after three rounds of the Maybank Malaysian Open.

Around six hours of delays on the first three days had left the leaders 27 holes to play on the final day at Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club, with Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy returning with a two shot lead.

And although the 21 year old immediately extended that to three with a birdie at the par five tenth, a double bogey five at the 15th left him 11 under with a round to play.

"I got off to a nice start today with a birdie at ten and I played decent after that but couldn’t get anything going," said McIlroy. "The five on 15 wasn’t great but I’m in a great position going into the last round.

"I just need to get at it this afternoon. I missed the green on 15 just on the fringe so technically it was a three putt. I hit the tee shot too far and it caught the slope and went down the hill. I knocked my second one past and then to about three feet and missed it coming back. There’s a long way to go though – 18 holes."

McIlroy was passed first by Manassero - who turns 18 on Tuesday - after the youngest ever European Tour winner birdied both par threes on the back nine for a bogey free 67.

"It was a good way to finish the round," said the Italian. "I started well yesterday afternoon. I had a good practice session and was hitting the ball a lot better. I kept it going this morning hitting some good shots.

"I’ve not missed a green this morning. It was a pure round. I could have done better but I’m happy – it puts me in contention. It will be a good final round and it would be a good birthday gift if I could win."

Noren, a leader after round one and two, stayed in the hunt for a wire-to-wire success with a birdie at the 15th and eagle two at the next, stopping his three wood tee shot three metres from the pin, in a 71.

With no redraw for the final round, some of Saturday's big movers were already out in their final round, France's Gregory Bourdy and Chilean Felipe Aguilar parring the first to remain tied fourth on ten under after earlier completing rounds of 66.

World Number One Martin Kaymer was yet to make his presence felt as he remained eight under for the week after two, alongside Korean Hwang In-choon, Spain's Rafael Cabrera Bello and New Zealand's Danny Lee.