JOOST Luiten of the Netherlands recovered from a nightmare start to extend his lead going into today’s final round of the Lyoness Open in Austria.
One shot clear overnight, Luiten thinned a chip across the first green at Diamond Country Club and also bogeyed the fifth, but birdied seven of the remaining 13 holes to card a third round of 67.
At 16 under par, the 27-year-old, winner of the Iskandar Johor Open in 2011, leads by three shots from Spanish duo Eduardo De La Riva (69) and Jorge Campillo (66), with Denmark’s Thomas Bjorn (64) and France’s Romain Wattel (69) two strokes further back.
Miguel Angel Jimenez, playing his 602nd European Tour event and having to win to qualify for this week’s US Open, is six off the pace after a 69, while defending champion Bernd Wiesberger – who needs a top-12 finish to book his place at Merion – is in a tie for 29th after only managing a 72 to finish five under.
Scotland’s Callum Macaulay, pictured, began the day one shot off the lead after an impressive 66 on Friday. But a three-over par round of 75 yesterday saw him tumble down the leaderboard and he is now tied for 17th place, nine shots behind Luiten.
The Tulliallan golfer began the day with a double-bogey and had three single bogeys in his outward half. He steadied the ship on the back nine with a couple of birdies but it was a disappointing day for Macaulay.
Leading Scot is Alastair Forsyth whose round of 70 propelled him into a tie for tenth. David Drysdale’s 72 left him level with Macaulay while Craig Lee shot an impressive 68 and is two shots further back. Compatriot Scott Henry endured a difficult 77 and is among the tailenders.
Earlier in the day, Bjorn had charged through the field with the aid of a “bit of a funny” eagle as he moved into contention for a 14th European Tour title.
Bjorn began the third round eight shots off the lead and dropped further back with a bogey on the second, but birdied three of the next four holes to be out in 34.
And the 42-year-old Dane then holed his second shot to the 12th for an eagle two and added four birdies to storm home in just 30 shots.
“It was a bit of a funny one,” Bjorn said after completing a 64 to set the clubhouse target on 11 under par.
“I hit my drive on the 12th and the ball flew a bit funny.
“I said to my caddie going up the hole: ‘Better change that ball on the next, it flew a bit funny,’ so when the second shot went in he said ‘Flying funny is it?’
“I was plodding along, playing all right, and then all of a sudden everything clicked into place and I couldn’t stop making birdies on the last few holes.”