Brandon stone sets pace with route 66, 66, 66

Brandon Stone of South Africa leads the Portugal Masters.  Picture: Luke Walker/Getty Images
Brandon Stone of South Africa leads the Portugal Masters. Picture: Luke Walker/Getty Images
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Brandon Stone will take a two-shot
lead into the final round of the Portugal Masters as English duo Oliver Fisher and Steven Brown look to secure their European Tour futures in Vilamoura.

South African Stone fired a third consecutive round of 66 to get to 15 under and lead the way from countryman Dean Burmester and Fisher, with Brown a shot further back on the Algarve.

Despite registering just one top-ten all season, Stone’s win at last year’s Scottish Open means he is guaranteed a European Tour card for next season, but the same cannot be said of Fisher and Brown.

Only the top 115 on the Race to Dubai are guaranteed to keep their playing privileges at the end of play tomorrow and barring a disaster Fisher – who started the week in danger at 112th – will be safe after provisionally moving up to 76th.

Brown, however, will need a good final round to force his way into the reckoning, sitting in a provisional 124th after starting the week 150th.

Overnight leader Fisher made a hat-trick of bogeys from the fifth to slide down the leaderboard but hit back with four birdies in a row from the 12th in a 70. “When you have days where you feel like you’re not getting anything out of it, you need to get a spark going, 11 and 12 
helped me out,” he told europeantour.com.

“I’m looking forward to tomorrow, it should be a good final round.”

Brown was bogey-free in carding a 65 but he is under no illusions about the task ahead of him.

“I need to have such a good week to keep my card,” he said. “It’s a good job I’ve got another day.”

Defending champion Tom Lewis, world No 29 Matt Wallace and a third Englishman in Eddie Pepperell were all five shots off the lead.