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Jeff Winther and Matti Schmid share the lead in Sotogrande

Jeff Winther and Matti Schmid share the lead in Sotogrande

Jeff Winther and Matti Schmid are tied at the top of the leaderboard ahead of the final round of the 2023 Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters after they each posted stunning 65s on Saturday.

Winther's flawless third round contained seven birdies - including four in a row from the fifth - while Germany's Schmid made an eagle, six birdies and a single bogey before getting up and down from the sand for a closing par to join him on 14 under par.

Defending champion Adrian Otaegui is the leading duo's nearest challenger on 12 under after finishing his 69 with back-to-back birdies to strengthen his position ahead of Sunday's final round.

Winther and Schmid began the day two shots off the pace on seven under but both made five birdies on the front nine to grab a share of the lead at the turn.

With Winther two groups ahead of Schmid, the Dane's two-putt birdie at the par-five 12th saw him take the outright lead before Schmid picked up a shot at the same hole to join him at the summit.

Winther regained the lead at the 14th after taking advantage of the back nine's second par five, only for Schmid to leapfrog him at the top of the leaderboard with an extraordinary eagle on the same hole.

But a bogey on the 15th saw Schmid slip back to 14 under, before a fabulous par save on the last meant he goes into the fourth round level with Winther at the top.

Winther's form on the greens was particularly impressive on Moving Day, with a series of lengthy birdie putts helping him climb the leaderboard.

He said: "Lovely day, beautiful weather, good greens - what’s not to like?"

The 35-year-old has recorded two top-tens in his last three events, including a runners-up finish at last month's Cazoo Open de France.

He added: "I’ve found something the last couple of weeks, months, that’s working and I’m just sticking to it. 

"I’m not trying to do anything that I’m not comfortable doing. I’m quite pleased with it. I’ve gotten some help and I’m pleased I took that step."

On the prospect of winning in front of family and friends on Sunday, Winther said: "It would be cool but it’s not on top of the list. 

"I’m enjoying myself, I’m trying to play some good golf, trying to take one shot at a time, one day at a time. It’s not on top of my list as like ‘I need to do this’ so I’m just taking it step by step."

Unlike Winther, who sits 63rd on the Race to Dubai Rankings in partnership with Rolex, Schmid is in need of a good result this week to boost him from his current position of 154th.

But he is not getting ahead of himself, saying: "I’ve got to keep grinding, I’ve got a few more chances and tomorrow is a big one, but one shot at a time."

On his round, Schmid said: "It started off good, really good. Birdies on the first and second. Just played really good golf. 

"Just one bogey, which happens. The rough is really unpredictable here. You get those flier situations. 

"I played really solid from tee to green and made some putts too."

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