Karlsson leads in Newcastle, McIlroy lurks

Late stumbles from Tyrrell Hatton and Lee Westwood saw Robert Karlsson finish the day as the third-round leader at the British Masters.

Hatton and Westwood were battling it out at the top of the leaderboard, seemingly destined for the final group on Sunday, but both made errors on the way home to hand the advantage to the Swede.

Westwood dropped three shots in his final six holes to undo much of his good work and drop back down to nine under par, three shots off Karlsson’s leading 12-under-par total.

Hatton was out in front on 13 under but made bogeys at 15 and 18 to drop down into a tie for second alongside Graeme Storm, Richie Ramsay, Paul Dunne and Ian Poulter.

Poulter gave himself a chance of victory come Sunday after a third-round 68, while Ramsay and Dunne both made significant moves with a pair of 65s.

The day belonged to Karlsson, however, who was one over par for his round through the first eight holes before a superb eagle-two at the par-4 ninth kickstarted his round.

Two more birdies on the back ensured the Swede the sole third-round lead, and the performance couldn’t have come at a better time.

With no top 10s so far this season, Karlsson is in danger of losing his playing privileges in Europe. A victory on Sunday would go a long way towards rectifying that problem.

“Every time you play well, every time you’re up in contention at tournaments, it’s what we all practise for and what we all play for,” said the Swede.

“It’s fantastic to play here. It’s a great crowd and I’m very, very happy to be in the last group. It’s a long time since I was there.

“I didn’t hit the ball very good so I put myself in a lot of trouble. But I managed to keep it together very nicely and I’m very proud of the way I scored in the end. So it was good.”

Karlsson has a lot more work left to do, however, not least of which because Rory McIlroy made his move on Saturday as well.

The Northern Irishman shot a scintillating 74 to move up to 10 under par, just two shots off the lead.