Lucas Bjerregaard edges ahead in Portugal Masters
Last Updated: 24/09/17 5:30pm
Lucas Bjerregaard will take a one-shot lead into the final round of the Portugal Masters in Vilamoura.
The big-hitting Dane, who had started the day in a tie for second place, carded a three-under 68 to move to 14-under 199, although he has plenty of challengers within striking distance as he bids for his maiden European Tour victory.
South African George Coetzee heads the chasing pack at the Dom Pedro Victoria Golf Course on 13 under with England's Eddie Pepperell, Marc Warren of Scotland and Italian Nino Bertasio one shot further back.
Bjerregaard, 26, made a steady start to his third round with birdies at the third and fifth and was clear of the field when he added another gain at the 10th.
The world No 387, who is fighting to retain his Tour card at 114th in the Race to Dubai standings, slipped back with bogeys at the 11th and 14th but he shrugged those off with confident birdies at the 15th and 17th to nose back in front.
Bjerreggard, who partnered Thorbjorn Olesen as Denmark won the inaugural GolfSixes in May, said: "It feels good. It's been a rough year for me so to be in contention again feels really good.
"I played well in Switzerland two weeks ago and I've been seeing my game go in the right direction the last month or so, so to be in contention is great. I'm in a place where I'm still building confidence but it feels good.
"This is what we play for, this is where I want to be. I'm looking forward to tomorrow."
Coetzee had endured a frustrating time as he mixed three birdies with one bogey over the opening 16 holes, but he put himself firmly in contention for a fourth Tour victory with a superb eagle at the par-five 17th which gave him a four-under 67.
The 31-year-old, who started the tournament with a 64 to share the first-round lead, told Sky Sports: "Today was actually the best day of the week and also the most frustrating.
"I feel like I left a lot of shots out there but I'm quite happy with the way it turned out and hopefully tomorrow we might have some more of the same. I'm excited to see what the challenge brings. It should be fun playing with a bit of pressure and I'm looking forward to it."
Pepperell held the outright lead at one stage on the back nine after successive birdies at the 13th and 14th, but a bogey at the final hole eventually saw him finish two shots off the pace after signing for a three-under 68.
"Today was trickier definitely," said the 26-year-old, who is also chasing his first win. "Conditions were pretty windy, some pins were tucked and the greens were not ideal. So I was happy.
"Three under is not a bad score and I am still in the event and in a position to go and give it a good run tomorrow. I believe that the way I am playing I can go out there and shoot 66, 67 and that might be good enough. So it's all in my hands really. I've just got to go and do it."
Warren was the early pace-setter and went two clear thanks to three birdies over the opening four holes, but that was as good as it got for the 36-year-old as his run was checked by a double bogey at the seventh after he found water.
He then parred his way in for a one-under 70, although he did well to salvage a par at the 17th after once again finding water with his second shot.
Overnight leader Bertasio stuttered on the front nine with two bogeys but an eagle on the 17th put him back in the mix and saw him finish with a level-par 71.
There is a six-way tie for sixth place on 11 under between English duo Chris Paisley (67) and Graeme Storm (69), Dutchman Joost Luiten (70), Spain's Nacho Elvira (68), Thomas Detry of Belgium (68) and Ashun Wu of China (67).
Nicolas Colsaerts of Belgium and Sweden's Sebastian Soderberg shared the round-of-the-day honours as they fired 64s to storm up the leaderboard to 10 under early in the day.
Shane Lowry, the 2012 champion, is also on 10 under after a frustrating 70, while his fellow Irishman Padraig Harrington carded a 71 to sit on eight under and requiring a final-day charge if he is to retain his title.
Danny Willett had been a happy man after shooting a 65 on Friday but he failed to rediscover that form as a four-over 75 saw him slump back to two under.
Watch the final round of the Portugal Masters live on Sky Sports Golf, coverage continues on Sunday from 1pm.