Alex Noren leads Ballantine’s Championship

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Sweden’s Alex Noren will take a one-shot lead into the final round of the Ballantine’s Championship after a slow third day labelled “an absolute joke” by former Open champion Paul Lawrie.

Noren carded a 69 to finish nine under par in the weather-delayed event at Blackstone Golf Club, making a birdie on the 18th to edge ahead of Fifer Peter Whiteford (69) and Spain’s Pablo Larrazabal (68).

The Swede’s group took almost five and a half hours to complete their rounds, with Lawrie furious about the slow pace of play.

Lawrie, who was on the edge of contention before dropping four shots in his last six holes, wrote on Twitter: “5 hours 16 mins to play today, absolute joke as ever, how many players penalised or fined – Zero #unacceptablepaceofplay.”

Noren, who won the last of his three European Tour titles on home soil in 2011, said: “I made a lot of par putts and they were very important. I struggled a little with the driver but it’s more important to hit these greens.

“It’s so much fun to have a chance to win on Sunday. When I was leading the first time in Portugal I thought it’s not good if I lose this, but somebody shot six under and wins. You have to just play your game and if you make more birdies than the other guy you win.”

Larrazabal’s 68 was the lowest score of the third round and gives the 29-year-old the chance of a third European Tour title.

Whiteford was one of those who had to complete their second rounds in the morning after weather delays on Thursday and Friday.

“I was on the 5am bus, first bus in, last bus out it looks like,” Whiteford said. “My form has been pretty average, poor to be honest. I was hitting it half decent on the range and just not taking anything to the golf course, but this week has been better.”

Australian duo Brett Rumford and Marcus Fraser are two shots off the pace on seven under.

World No.7 Louis Oosthuizen, the pre-tournament favourite, is four off the lead after a second consecutive 71 to finish five under.

n Lucas Glover was at the top of the leaderboard at the midway point of the Zurich Classic in New Orleans as Chinese teenager Guan Tianlang again impressed.

American Glover carded a 67 to add to his opening 65 to sit 12 under par, one ahead of countryman Boo Weekley. But a little further down the leaderboard, 14-year-old Guan matched his achievement at the Masters by making the cut with nothing to spare, carding a 69.