Swede Alexander Noren birdied the last hole to take a one-shot lead after the third round of the Ballantine’s Championship in Seoul yesterday.
The 30-year-old, seeking a fourth European Tour title, fired a three-under-par 69 at the Blackstone Golf Club in Icheon to finish on nine under for the championship, one ahead of Spain’s Pablo Larrazabal (68) and Scotland’s Peter Whiteford (69).
Australian duo Marcus Fraser and Brett Rumford shot 69s to sit tied fourth at the co-sanctioned Asian Tour event.
“It was a nice way to finish, and it was a long, tough day, a lot of wind,” Noren told reporters. “My short game I think held it together, and I didn’t have that many chances, but I took care of them when I got chances for birdies and made the important pars when I needed. So it was a big fight day.”
Noren’s last tour titles came in 2011 when he lifted the Nordea Masters crown a few weeks after winning the Wales Open.
The world No. 60 said he was looking forward to the battle today.
“I’m just trying to play well tomorrow, and it’s going to be a really fun day,” Noren said.
“I haven’t been in the lead in a long time, and I’ve had some good finishes, but it will be a lot of fun. But I’m just trying to play good and make birdies and try to make more birdies than the other ones,” he said.
Larrazabal birdied the last for the third day running as he bids to capture a third European Tour success.
“I hit the ball beautiful today, and from the tee I was very solid and the irons were very good. To have six birdies, I am very happy,” he said.
Rain, lightning and poor visibility forced delays to the tournament over the first two days and Noren was one of the lucky players to finish his second round on Friday and avoid an early start yesterday.
He was one back on six under after rounds of 71 and 67, but the Swede recorded four birdies and a lone bogey at the par- four ninth in his third round to take control of the US$2.87 million event.
Jose Manuel Lara of Spain, joint second-round leader, could only manage a level par 72 to leave him three back in a tie for sixth. South African former British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen was a further shot adrift after a 71.
Thai duo Kiradech Aphibarnrat (75) and Arnond Vongvanij (76) dropped out of title contention and home hope Park Sang-hyun (69) led the Asian charge in tied 10th.