Norret edges clear in Austria

Thomas Nørret held a two shot lead after Saturday’s third round of the Austrian Golf Open being played at Lyoness in France.

Thomas Nørret held a two shot lead after Saturday’s third round of the Austrian Golf Open being played at Lyoness in France – but the bunched field behind him is not likely to let him have his own way come Sunday

The Danish Qualifying School graduate carded a two under par 70 at the Diamond Country Club to move to nine under for the week and go two clear of fellow joint overnight leaders Joost Luiten of the Netherlands and the Englishman Robert Coles who were tied for second at 7-under with Brits Simon Wakefield and Kenneth Ferrie.

Nørret went ahead at his very first hole which he birdied while Coles, Luiten and Gaganjeet Bhullar all bogeyed the hole.

A wild drive on the eighth forced Narret to take a drop and the 37 year old’s subsequent bogey allowed Coles, who birdied the third and eighth, to take over the lead.

Both men birdied the tenth and bogeyed the 13th, but while Nørret holed impressive birdie putts on the 15th and 17th, Coles dropped shots at the 15th and 18th.

“It was very nice,” said Nørret, who won his only Challenge Tour title nine years ago. “I felt relaxed for most of the day. I was nervous at the beginning of the round but then hit a great approach into the first and made birdie and that really calmed me down for the rest for the day and took the pressure off me.

“The wind was a lot stronger today than yesterday so it was a tough golf course.

“I have been playing well for a while now and making a lot of cuts but just not doing much on the weekends. I have been putting well this week and keeping it all together so it is nice to get some forward momentum on a weekend. You have to putt well here but I have been working hard with my mental coach and really trying to focus on enjoying myself out there.

“I just have to go out there tomorrow and try to repeat the feeling I had today, try to relax and enjoy it. It will be tougher to do that in the final round and I we ill definitely feel the pressure but that’s why I have been doing all the work on the mental side of the game. I will definitely be talking to the mental coach tonight…Hopefully he can get me over the line.”

Of the leading five, only Ferrie has won on The European Tour and he moved into contention with a joint best-of-the-day 65, highlighted by a birdie at the 15th after a tee shot to three feet.

Dutchman Luiten fought hard to remain in contention after dropping three shots in his first five holes, with a run of three birdies in four holes after the turn giving him a level par 72.

Wakefield almost won this event in 2008 before sliding to sixth in the closing stages, but the Qualifying School winner gave himself a fantastic chance3 to atone that missed opportunity with a two under 70.

Coles’ European Tour career goes back 15 years and over 300 events, although he almost won the Avant ha Masters earlier this year.

Former amateur star Tom Lewis looks set to pick up a healthy cheque in his first event as a professional, a two under 70 lifting him into a share of 23rd.