English duo in front in Spain

English pair David Howell and James Morrison are two strokes clear of the rest of the field after the third round of the Open de Espana.

With strong winds and fast greens once again making for tricky conditions, Morrison moved into a share of the lead on seven under par thanks to a four-under-par 68, while Howell joined him after a 69.

Italy’s Francesco Molinari moved into sole third place on five under after carding a two-under-par 70, with Emiliano Grillo and Darren Fichardt following a further shot back.

Overnight leader Edouard Espana fell off the pace with a 76 to drop down to three under.

He lies one shot clear of a group of six which includes Sergia Garcia, who moved into the top 10 courtesy of a well-played 67.

Garcia is five shots adrift, but has put himself in position for a potential final-round charge.

“If the leaders don’t go much lower than what they are, with another great round tomorrow I have a chance. If it doesn’t rain the course is not going to play any easier,” said the Spaniard.

Co-leader Morrison did not have a good start, double-bogeying the par-five second, but he hit back with seven birdies and one more bogey to move to the top of the leaderboard.

“It’s been three very silly days – the first day I was three over after five holes and today made a seven at the second out of nowhere and fought my way back again,” Morrison said.

“It’s what you’ve got to do really – it takes one good shot to get back in it.

“I’ve done that all week; I’ve really maintained my process and my game plan.

“It’s always a great week – it’s always really well run and it’s great fun.”

Howell also made seven birdies, but added two bogeys and a double after losing his ball on the short eighth thanks to a wayward tee shot.

“I’m delighted to be in the mix again,” said Howell.

“I haven’t managed to win this year but I’ve given myself three chances and this is going to be a fourth chance – hopefully I’ll do it tomorrow.

“It’s a real challenge and the course is really firm. But it’s very fair – you’ve got to be on the fairway.

“As the week’s gone on it’s felt like a really, really good championship. It’s got tougher and tougher as the week has gone on and the crowds have come out so it’s just the way it should be.”