It’s always a difficult task to follow a low round with another, but the resurgent Thorbjorn Olesen did a wonderful job of front-running in the third round of the Turkish Airlines Open, increasing his advantage over the field by another shot Saturday.
The 26-year-old Dane closed with an annoying bogey on his final hole, but his three-under par 68 effort, combined with the course-record 62 on Friday, gave him a three-day tally of 18-under par 195 in the opening Final Series event on the European Tour.
The seven-shot lead he has now, just like the six-shot lead after 36 holes, is the largest this season on the Tour.
At the Regnum Carya Golf & Spa Resort, there was a massive group of chasing pack in the form of Italy’s Matteo Manassero, American David Lipsky, Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger, China’s Li Haotong and England’s David Horsey – all tied a distant second on 11-under par 202.
South Africa’s first-round leader George Coetzee (66) was among the birdies again after a dismal Friday and joined Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee a shot further back at 203.
On another glorious day, Olesen wasn’t making much of a move as a bogey on the difficult 10th hole saw him at just one-under par for the day after 13 and other players closing in on him.
But as he had done in the previous two days, he went on a birdie binge mid-way through the back nine. He went on an overdrive with a hat-trick of birdies from the 14th hole onwards.
The tournament is Olesen’s to lose now, and he has his own plans to protect the big lead.
Solid round again bodey free... @Thorbjornolesen is killing the field... can some one go low and put some presure?— Pablo Larrazabal (@plarrazabal) November 5, 2016
“I’ve never had a seven-shot lead. I felt a bit nervous when I went out today also because I’ve never been that many shots clear,” said the talented Dane.
“It’s a bit of a weird feeling, but I know it’s not easy and there are a bunch of guys there and it’s possible to shoot a really low one out here.
“I need to stay aggressive tomorrow and keep plugging away.”
Olesen said he was proud of the way he played the round, especially after his 62 the previous day.
“It’s obviously difficult to back up a low round with another good one. I thought I did very well mentally. I was very patient out there. I felt like I was playing some great golf, a lot of good iron shots,” said Olesen.
“Obviously, it’s a shame with 18, but I just lost a little bit of concentration on that tee shot. You lose a little bit of concentration, you get in trouble quickly. So, that’s going to be the key tomorrow.”
Reigning Masters champion Danny Willett suffered a setback in his attempt to go low and get a top-five finish, which is his only chance to reclaim the Race to Dubai lead from Henrik Stenson. Willett shot a three-under par 68, but that only bumped him up to tied 48th on the leaderboard, 16 shots behind Olesen.
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