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Paratore and Crocker tied at the top

Paratore and Crocker tied at the top

An unlikely birdie at the 14th inspired Renato Paratore to a battling 69 which saw him end day three of the Omega European Masters locked alongside Sean Crocker at the top of the leaderboard.


As those who had started the day at the summit moved backwards in challenging conditions at Crans-sur-Sierre golf club, Paratore and Crocker took advantage to grab a share of the lead on ten under par - but it could have been a completely different story for the Italian.

After mixing two birdies with three bogeys in his first 13 holes, the two time European Tour winner may have been fearing the worst after getting into tree trouble off the 14th tee.

And he looked to have serious work still to do after sending his third shot into a greenside bunker, but he produced one of the shots of the day from the sand, holing for an astonishing birdie to give his chances a huge boost.

He followed that up with another gain on the 15th, with a brilliant pitch and run from just off the green setting up a tap-in birdie.

Two impressive par saves at the 16th and 17th kept the momentum going in the right direction before his birdie putt at the last narrowly missed the hole to leave him on ten under heading into the final round.

Crocker, meanwhile, produced the lowest round of the day - a brilliant 64 which contained an eagle, six birdies and two bogeys.

Spaniard Jorge Campillo and Englishmen Ross McGowan and Matthew Jordan were one shot behind the leading duo in a tie for third on nine under, with halfway leader Dean Burmester among those another stroke back.

Paratore was pleased with his day's work and enjoyed playing in front of the Crans crowds. He said: "Today I enjoyed it a lot, I made a lot of good saves and the crowd was also amazing.

"Over the last few holes I holed a bunker shot and had some up-and-downs to finish with a good one under.

"We play to enjoy it and to entertain the crowds, so it was good, there were lots of Italians and a good support.

"I didn't play my best golf today, but in these tough conditions I managed to shoot one under, which for today was a really good score, normally maybe not that good."

Beginning the day seven shots off the lead, Crocker did not get off to the best of starts on Saturday as he opened with a bogey.

But he swiftly made amends with a birdie at the second before reeling off three consecutive gains at the sixth, seventh and eighth.

After starting the back nine with another birdie on the tenth, the American carded a magnificent eagle at the 14th to get to ten under.

And when he picked up another shot courtesy of an eight foot birdie putt at the 15th, Crocker took the outright lead.

But he gave the shot straight back at the very next hole to return to ten under.

He came agonisingly close to a bounce back birdie on the 17th but his putt from the fringe hit the hole and did not drop.

Another par at the last saw Crocker set the early clubhouse target and no-one was able to surpass his ten under total.

Crocker, who is searching for his maiden European Tour win, said: "It was one of those rounds where I didn't really know what was going on, it just kind of went that way.

"I bogeyed the first hole, got a bit aggressive and banged driver down two, had about 64 yards to the pin and had an easy birdie there. Kind of got the momentum going from there.

"It was kind of tough out there, wind swirling, I just had to play my own golf and stay away from the leaderboard.

"I'll just play my game, whatever happens tomorrow it's just one of those things. If I win, I don't, it doesn't matter to me, I just want to go and play some golf."

Italian amateur Pietro Bovari had a day to remember in the mountains as he made a hole-in-one at the 13th to win himself an OMEGA Seamaster Aqua Terra 150M.

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