Lee Slattery and Rafael Cabrera-Bello head into the final round of the KLM Open tied on 16 under par after an extraordinary third day at Kennemer Golf and Country Club.
Cabrera-Bello got off to a flying start on Saturday, carding six birdies, an eagle and a solitary bogey on his front nine before safely parring the final nine holes to add a third round 63 to opening rounds of 65 and 66.
England’s Slattery covered the front nine in 32 before mixing an eagle with two birdies and a bogey after the turn to finish in a share of the overnight lead.
Scot Paul Lawrie trails the leaders by one stroke after firing seven birdies on his way to a flawless 63 on a day three.
Meanwhile Magnus A Carlsson carded the 40th hole-in-one of the current European Tour season at the short eighth, holing his tee shot from 222 yards, before Wade Ormsby added another ace at the 11th.
Cabrera-Bello opened his round with back-to-back gains at the first two holes a bogey at the short third.
The Spaniard bounced back in style, firing three birdies in his next three holes – having come within inches of an eagle at the fifth when his approach shot clattered the flag stick before bouncing just beside the hole.
The 31 year old then chipped in from 50 yards for an eagle at the seventh before carding another birdie at the ninth to reach the turn in 29.
He closed out his round with nine pars to finish on 16 under, and said: “I sunk a very long putt on the first hole and after that all the other birdies were pretty much tap-ins.
“Even the bogey I had was a three-putt from five feet, so it could’ve been better, but I’m really pleased that everything went my way.
“It was a bonus to hole my third shot for eagle on the seventh. I just threw my club up in the air because I didn’t know how to celebrate! I wasn’t expecting that.
“It wasn’t frustrating making nine pars in a row. The only hole I felt I gave a shot away was the 12th – I hit a perfect drive in the middle of the fairway and had a six iron into the green but made a really poor shot. It’s a par five so I was expecting to make birdie there.
“The rest of the holes I played well but the putts didn’t drop. It could’ve been one or two better but I’ll take 63. It’s very exciting for tomorrow and it looks like I’ll be in the last group with Lee. Being in the final group on the last day is always an honour and very exciting.
“I’ve felt this year I’ve been in this position more often than ever before in my career. It’s not always worked out, but I’m learning from my mistakes and working on them.
“The more I put myself in that position the more comfortable I’ll be and the better I’ll play – simple!”
Slattery began his third round in style, following up a par at the first with three consecutive birdies before making another gain at the ninth.
Last week’s M2M Russian Open champion recovered from a bogey at the tenth by holing his ten foot eagle putt at the 12th to move to 14 under par.
And the in-form Englishman made further gains at the 15th and 17th to complete a stunning 63.
He said: “It’s like a dream come true at the minute. I went into last week with a lot of pressure on and won, and then I’ve come here with no pressure whatsoever and just been trying to play good golf.
“It’s a fabulous feeling and I feel a lot more relaxed this week than I was last week.”
“My first win in 2011 took a lot out of me because it was after years and years and years of hard work, and it was a lifetime ambition to win a European Tour event. That was a special moment for me, but last week meant a lot to several other people as well, so that made it more special in some ways. It’s just been a lot of hard work and it’s finally paying off.
“Over the years I’ve been told a lot that I should be doing better, that I’ve under-achieved. I knew deep down that there are certain aspects of my golf swing I struggle with, and I had to get stronger. I’ve been working so hard with my coach Alan Thompson – he’s helped me a lot over the last year and been there for me when I really needed him. He’s turned my game around and made it a lot more consistent.
“A lot of things went my way today. At 12 it looked like it was going to stay at the back of the green, which would have been a really difficult putt, but it rolled back down to about 15 feet and I managed to knock it in for eagle.
You need bits of luck when you do well in tournaments, so I’ll take them.”
Lawrie heads into the final day in third place after notching seven birdies in his bogey free round of 63 on Saturday.
Thomas Pieters is one stroke further back on 14 under, with Mikko Ilonen, Morten Ørum Madsen and Wade Ormsby another shot behind.
Halfway leader Søren Kjeldsen sits five shots off the pace on 11 under after mixing two birdies with three bogeys on day three.
Article credit – European Tour
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