European Tour

Coetzee one behind leader in Portugal

2017-09-23 23:27
George Coetzee (Gallo)

Cape Town - Lucas Bjerregaard will take a one-shot lead into the final round at Dom Pedro Victoria Golf Course as he goes in search of a first European Tour title at the Portugal Masters.

READ the full scorecard on the European Tour's official website

He leads South Africa’s George Coetzee by one stroke.

The Dane appeared to be on the brink of making his breakthrough in 2015 when he secured four top fives in his last nine events and he was a picture of consistency last term.

He has not been able to quite reproduce that form this season and sits 114th in the Race to Dubai Rankings, looking for a good finish to the season to keep his playing privileges.

Opening rounds of 66-65-68 have moved him to 14 under and given him an excellent platform heading into Sunday but there are 18 players within five shots of the lead.

Coetzee is Bjerregarrd's closest challenger, with Italian Nino Bertasio, England's Eddie Pepperell and Scot Marc Warren all at 12 under.

Bjerregaard hit a brilliant approach to the third and holed a 15-foot right-to-lefter on the fifth to hold a one-shot lead at the turn. A nice approach to the tenth handed him a two-shot advantage but when he failed to get up and down on the 11th and found a fairway bunker on the 14th, he was out of top spot.

A huge drive to the front of the par four 15th allowed him to get up and down for a birdie and when he used his length again to birdie the par five 17th, the lead was his once again.

Coetzee holed a monster on the first but when he bogeyed the eighth and birdied the next to turn in 34, he looked to be treading water. Another birdie on the 11th kept him in contention before he eagled the par five 17th to jump to the top of the leaderboard.

Pepperell missed the cut here last season as he lost his European Tour card but he regained his playing privileges at the Qualifying School and is comfortably in the top 100 in the rankings this season.

He made birdies on the third and fifth to turn in 33 and when he hit an excellent approach to the tenth, he was just a shot off the lead.

A three-putt bogey on the 11th threatened to slow him down but back-to-back birdies on the 13th and 14th had him in the lead with Bjerregaard making his two back-nine bogeys before a three-putt from the fringe on the last dropped Pepperell to 12 under.
Warren has made just two of his last 12 cuts with a best finish in 2017 of tied 14th at the Made In Denmark but he has three European Tour wins so is comfortable when in the mix on the weekend.

A stunning approach to five feet for an opening birdie was evidence of that and he was in a share of the lead, with a seven-footer on the second getting him to 13 under.

When he hit another fantastic approach to the fourth he led by two but he made a double-bogey on the seventh after finding the water and parred the next 11 holes.

Overnight leader Bertasio looked to be slipping back as he turned in 37 with bogeys on the seventh and ninth and he was still two over for the day stood on the 17th tee but an eagle put him back in contention.

English duo Chris Paisley and Graeme Storm, Belgian Thomas Detry, Spaniard Nacho Elvira, Dutchman Joost Luiten and China's Ashun Wu were at 11 under, a shot clear of Nicolas Colsaerts, Phachara Khongwatmai, José-Filipe Lima, Shane Lowry and Sebastian Soderberg.


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