Portugal: Fast finish gives Coetzee lead

He just missed an albatross on the 17th, but an eagle-birdie finish for George Coetzee on Saturday saw George Coetzee fire a five-under-par 66 as he took a one-stroke lead into the final round of the Portugal Masters on the European Tour.

That meant he had hunted down the halfway leader, Julien Guerrier, who had an eight-shot edge over him going into the weekend. But the Frenchman faltered as he carded a four-over 75 to slip back into a share of second with Japan’s Masahiro Kawamura.

“An albatross It would have been nice,” he told the European Tour. “I was actually watching earlier on in the week, the top 10 shots they have had at this event and I didn’t think anything of it until I saw that ball rolling and I thought ‘Ah, this could be number one!’ but in the end I’m really happy where it finished.

“I was fortunate enough to be right next to Laurie (Canter) and he hit six-iron rather smooth, so it made it an easy decision for me to lift the seven-iron and it ended up being the perfect club.

“I kind of felt like I was in a good space today and I didn’t really get going on the front nine, missed a couple of good opportunities on the back nine with the first couple of holes, but then when I started finally making them it was smooth sailing from there.

“It was a bit of a grind but you just have to hold on tight until you get a good opportunity.”

Brandon Stone was the next best of the South Africans remaining after the cut. He has had a solid week, and his one-under 70 for the third round saw him head into the weekend on six-under and in a share of 12th.

Wilco Nienaber made and eagle three on the fifth, but he gave those strokes back with a double=-bogey on the seventh. His accuracy on approach began letting him down, and with the putter refusing to co-operate, he battled for the rest of the round. A bogey on nine and another double on 15 saw him stumble to a two-over 73 as he slipped down the leaderboard to a share of 20th.

Bryce Easton went three-under for a 68 on Saturday to move to five-under for the tournament, also in a share of 20th.

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