Larrazabal pulls away, holds 3-shot lead in Germany

 

The Sports Network

Cologne, Germany (SportsNetwork.com) - Pablo Larrazabal carded a third-round 67 on Saturday and he was able to pull away from the pack to take a 3-shot lead heading into the final round of the BMW International Open.

Larrazabal, who at one point during the day held a share of the lead at 14- under with seven other players, fired his third consecutive bogey-free round and sits three shots clear of the field at 17-under-par 67.

The Spaniard is seeking his third career win on the European Tour, with his last one coming earlier this year at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship.

A large group of eight players are tied for second place at 14-under 202, with Richard Green leading the way after nearly setting a tour record on the back nine during a rainy day at Golf Club Gut Larchenhof. Green shot an 8-under 28 on the back nine en route to a tournament-low 62.

Green is joined at 14-under by Francesco Molinari (65), Carlos Del Moral (66), Thomas Bjorn (66), world No. 2 Henrik Stenson (66), Robert Karlsson (68), Emiliano Grillo (70) and Rafael Cabrera-Bello (70).

Grillo, Cabrera-Bello and Danny Willett (71) all shared the 36-hole lead with Larrazabal, but they could not quite keep up. A total of 17 players sit within four shots of the lead.

Larrazabal was challenged for the lead late by Grillo and Alex Cejka. Grillo, who was Larrazabal's playing partner, held the outright lead at 15-under after making birdie at No. 13. Cejka, playing a couple holes ahead, made birdie on 15 to move into a tie for first with Grillo.

Larrazabal joined the group at 15-under with birdies at 13 and 14. Cejka bogeyed 16 to drop out of the lead, but he got that shot right back at 17 with a birdie. Larrazabal and Grillo birdied 15, however, putting them up one shot on Cejka.

Cejka then made a mess of No. 18 with a double-bogey to finish 54 holes at 13-under.

Larrazabal grabbed sole possession of first place with a birdie at 17 and he never let go. In the meantime, Grillo followed Cejka's lead with a double- bogey at 18, while Larrazabal made par to head into the final day up by three shots.

Karlsson also shared the lead with Larrazabal and Grillo at 15-under following an eagle at 17, but Karlsson gave that shot back on 18 with a bogey of his own.

It was another mistake-free round for Larrazabal, who has yet to make a bogey in the tournament. He had just one birdie on the front nine at No. 3, but he turned it on late with three straight birdies from No. 13. He added the birdie on 17 and the par on 18 to round out his 54 holes.

Still, Larrazabal believes there is room for improvement.

"My game wasn't good today. I didn't hit the driver good. I put myself in a little bit of trouble. But I knew how to handle it and how to keep it going," Larrazabal said.

Green exploded up the leaderboard on the third day, but he did not make much of a move until the back nine. With birdies at one and five, Green was just 2- under on the day when he made the turn.

Then the birdies came in bunches at Nos. 10, 12, 13, 14, 16 and 17, not to mention an eagle at the par-5 15th. Green had just two pars on the back nine at 11 and 18, and his surge was good enough to put him in a tie for second after starting the day eight shots back of the lead.

"Compared to Thursday afternoon when I played, it's a totally different golf course really," Green said. "The course was firm on Thursday afternoon, bouncy, and now all of a sudden it's target practice now. So you can pretty much fly it at any pin and stop it right there."

NOTES: For the second straight day there was a weather delay at the BMW International Open, with Saturday's lasting about one hour and 45 minutes ... Due to more potential inclement weather on Sunday, players will go off of split tees in pairings of three.

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