Cabrera-Bello in front in Portugal

European Tour

Rafael Cabrera-Bello will take a one shot lead into the final round of the Portugal Masters – but the event is still wide open.

Rafael Cabrera-Bello will take a one shot lead into the final round of the Portugal Masters – but the event is still wide open after another day of low scoring in Vilamoura.

The pencil-slim Spaniard shot a 2-eagle, 5-birdie, 1-bogie, 8-under par 64 in Saturday’s third round at Oceânico Victoria Golf Course to finish his day at 18-under and with a slender one shot lead over Swede Christian Nilsson, who shot a 66, and Argentina’s Felipe Aguilar, who carded a 67.

Denmark’s Thomas Bjorn, looking for his fourth European Tour win this year, is a further shot back at 16-under in a two way tie with Sweden’s Peter Hanson, who shot nine birdies and a bogey to match Cabrera-Bello’s 64.

The Spaniard, whose last Tour victory was in 2009 at Austrian Open, was more than happy with his sparkling 64. He told the media afterwards: “It felt really good, I’ve been playing good the last few days.

“My goal today was to try and do the same thing. The two eagles definitely gave me a big boost and I think I played pretty solid.

“I did not make many mistakes. I’ve been hitting my irons really good this week, hitting them close and giving myself lots of opportunities and I’ve been able to take a few. Hopefully I can keep it up tomorrow.

Hanson, a member of Europe’s victorious Ryder Cup Team at The Celtic Manor Resort last year, said of his matching round: “I wasn’t really thinking about a 64, but I got off to a good start and managed to keep a bit of momentum going into the back nine.

“I’ve been struggling a bit with every part of my game this season, it has not been consistent but I’ve been working hard on that the least few weeks.

“I’m just outside top 15 on the Race to Dubai standings and would love to get into it. I’m also 51st on the world rankings and it would be nice to move up there as well.”

South African Hennie Otto was among those on 14-under after producing a spectacular, best-of-the-day, 9-under 63.

Otto carded seven birdies and an eagle in his bogey-free round two hours before overnight leader Simon Khan after making the cut on Friday with nothing to spare on five under after rounds of 72 and 67.

“I got it to six under yesterday with three holes to go and then I double-bogeyed the seventh,” Otto said.

“I had five under par in my head to be the number for the cut and I chipped and putted on the eighth for par but then managed to birdie the last to get in right on the mark.

“With the early time and fresh greens, I really wanted to have a go. I played well last week but made 18 pars in a row in the first round.

“Yesterday I also played well but didn’t make the putts, but I knew it was going to happen sooner rather than later for me.”

And the earlier front runners? What happened to them?

South African James Kingston, the first round leader, and England’s Simon Khan both slipped back into a tie for 8th with Otto and Tom Lewis, the exciting young English Walker Cup star who turned professional only a few weeks ago.

While Lewis was shooting a 68, Kingston was posting a 70 and Khan a 71.

TOP 10 LEADERBOARD
198 Rafael Cabrera-Bello (Esp) 69 65 64
199 Christian Nilsson (Swe) 69 64 66, Felipe Aguilar (Chi) 66 66 67
200 Peter Hanson (Swe) 66 70 64, Thomas Bjorn (Den) 65 69 66
201 Lorenzo Gagli (Ita) 69 66 66, Keith Horne (RSA) 69 65 67
202 Hennie Otto (RSA) 72 67 63, Tom Lewis (Engh) 70 64 68, James Kingston (RSA) 64 68 70, Simon Khan (Eng) 65 66 71

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