Scots slip back in third round of Betfred British Masters

Italian Renato Paratore leads by a shot at Close House

Calum Hill lets go of the club after hitting his opening tee shot in the third round of the Betfred British Masters at at Close House. Picture: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images
Calum Hill lets go of the club after hitting his opening tee shot in the third round of the Betfred British Masters at at Close House. Picture: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

Scottish duo Calum Hill and David Law both slipped down the leaderboard after the third round of the Betfred British Masters as Italian Renato Paratore closed in on a place in the European Tour record books.

Hill and Law had started the day at Close House, near Newcastle, just two shots off the lead in a tie for fourth in the European Tour's full restart following a four-month Covid-19 lockdown.

But their hopes of going on to taste victory in an event being hosted by Lee Westwood were dashed by disappointing days at the Northumberland venue as others made the most of favourable scoring conditions.

David Law hits his tee shot at the fifth on day three of the Betfred British Masters at Close House, near Newcastle. Picture: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

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Hill, a three-time winner on the Challenge Tour, started with a bogey before finding his stride to pick up three shots in four holes.

In moving to 11-under-par, the 25-year-old Fifer found himself sitting just a shot off the lead only to have his momentum halted by back-to-back bogeys at the ninth and tenth.

The latter was a disappointing 6 and taking the same score at the penultimate hole left him having to settle for a one-over-par 72.

That left him sitting in a tie for 14th on eight-under, eight shots behind Paratore as the 23-year-old from Rome signed for a second successive 66.

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Playing in the penultimate group, 2019 Vic Open winner Law dropped two shots in the first three holes before getting one of those back with a birdie at the par-4 seventh.

However, the 29-year-old Aberdonian followed a double-bogey 6 at the eighth with a bogey at the next to be out in 39, four-over.

He started for home with a birdie, but then took another double-bogey at the short 12th to fall back to four-under for the tournament, finishing with a 76 to sit in a tie for 39th.

Paratore, who is bidding to add to his breakthrough win at the age of 20 in the 2017 Nordea Masters in Sweden, has covered 54 holes without a bogey.

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He'll become the first player since Jesper Parnevik achieved the feat in the 1995 Scandinavian Masters if he can keep that run going in the final circuit.

The man from Rome leads by a shot from South African Justin Harding, with 19-year-old Norwegian Rasmus Hojgaard lurking ominously on 14-under as he attempts to land his second win of the season as a rookie.

Earlier, England's Sam Horsfield had set the clubhouse target after carding three eagles in a course record-equalling 10-under-par 61.

The 23-year-old only made the halfway cut with a shot to spare but took full advantage of ideal conditions for the morning starters.

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The first of his eagles came from 35 feet at the seventh, the second from two feet at the tenth and last one from 50 feet at the 17th, with five birdies mixed in as well.

The sensational effort moved Horsfield, who had shot rounds of 58 and 59 in bounce games in Florida during lockdown, to 12-under-par.

"I've never (carded three eagles) in a tournament," he admitted afterwards. "I felt like the first two days I was maybe pushing a bit too hard as I haven't played a tournament in four months.

"When you're playing at home it really doesn't matter. I spoke to a few friends last night, FaceTimed a few people, and they said "dude just go out there and play like you were playing at home, it's literally the same. So that's what I tried to do today and I think it worked."

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England's Jack Senior, a former Scottish Challenge winner, had also surged through the field in the morning. Helped by a hole-in-one at the 14th, he shot a 63 to move to nine-under.

Senior's ace secured a £50,000 donation from Betfred to the tournament’s official charity, the Sir Graham Wylie Foundation.

Scott Jamieson birdied three of the last four holes to sign for 68, moving him to six-under, three shots ahead of Richie Ramsay (70) and five better than Grant Forrest (71).

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