Munich, Germany – Ernie Els birdied three of the last five holes on Saturday to maintain a piece of the lead after three rounds of the BMW International Open.
Els posted a 3-under 69 to end 54 holes at 15-under-par 201. He was joined there by Alexander Noren (66) and Alexander Levy (69).
They stand one stroke clear of Thomas Bjorn (65) and Matthew Baldwin (69). Peter Uihlein posted a 67 to move into sixth at minus-13 at Golf Club Gut Larchenhof.
Brandon Stone and Joost Luiten both carded 5-under 67s on Saturday. They moved into a tie for seventh at 12-under 204. They stand alongside Marcel Siem (69), Danny Willett (70) and Martin Kaymer (69)
The third round was completed on Saturday despite a pair of weather delays that combined to last two hours, 20 minutes.
Els, who led after the first two rounds, birdied the second, but fell off the pace with bogeys at five and seven. He made the turn at even-par for his round after a birdie on the ninth.
The Open champion rallied back into contention down the stretch. He birdied the 14th and 16th to get within one. Els 2-putted for birdie on the par-5 18th for the third straight round to move into a share of the lead.
"All in all I've got to be happy. I was a little out of sorts on the greens on the front nine. I didn't quite get the pace of the greens. They are a little bit faster for some reason and I kept hitting it past and then didn't make the returns, but I made a little slight adjustment and played some proper stuff coming in," Els explained. "If it wasn't for those three 3-putts I had, I would have had a really good score."
Noren, who has four top-10 finishes this season, birdied the third to get his round going. He converted back-to-back birdies at five and six to get to minus-12.
The Swede birdied the ninth and 11th to move into the lead at 14-under. Noren stumbled to a bogey on the par-4 15th, but bounced back with a 25-foot eagle putt on the drivable par-4 16th. He parred the final two holes to share the third-round lead.
"I hit a lot of good shots and a few bad ones, but you always do. You've got to be aggressive, because there are so many guys (near the lead). The leaderboard is as tight as ever with so many good players," Noren said. "I've got to be aggressive and maybe more aggressive tomorrow than today."
Levy, who has missed the cut in seven of his last 10 starts, converted back- to-back birdie chances at two and three. He stumbled to a bogey on the fifth, but came right back with his third birdie in three days at the sixth.
The 22-year-old Frenchman also birdied the ninth for the third day in a row. After four straight pars around the turn, Levy traded a birdie for a bogey from the 14th. His bogey at 15 came after he drove into a bush.
Levy, who played alongside Els in the third round, birdied the 18th to end alongside Els and Noren.
"I played very well. I'm very happy. It was great for me to play with a fantastic player," Levy said of Els. "It's nice to play with him, very happy. It was unbelievable. I don't know what happens tomorrow, but I will go to make the job like today, and play golf on a golf course in good condition and I am happy."
NOTES: Els has won 27 times on the European Tour, while Noren has three tour titles and Levy is searching for his first ... American Dustin Johnson is 6- under par and tied for 36th.