Nixon leads by 1 at NH Collection Open

Cadiz, Spain ( - Matthew Nixon fired a 7-under 65 on Saturday and moved one stroke clear of the field after three rounds of the NH Collection Open.

Nixon, who is winless on the European Tour, finished 54 holes at 8-under 208.

Marco Crespi carded a 6-under 66 and that helped him move into second place at minus-7. Felipe Aguilar posted a 2-under to grab third place a 6-under 210, while Ricardo Santos climbed into fourth at minus-5 after shooting 67 on Saturday.

Marc Warren, David Horsey and Bradley Dredge shared the 36-hole lead when the second round was completed earlier Saturday. Horsey managed a 1-over 73 in round three and dipped into a share of fifth at 4-under 212. Warren struggled to a 3-over 75 and fell to 2-under 214, while Dredge faltered to a 6-over 78 to tumble to plus-1.

The tournament is back on schedule after heavy rain delayed the start of the first round, which in turn led to suspensions due to darkness on Thursday and Friday.

Nixon stumbled out of the gate with a bogey on the second. He bounced back with a birdie on the par-5 fourth. He flew up the leaderboard with back-to- back birdies from the sixth and again from the ninth.

The Englishman tripped to another bogey on the par-5 11th and that dropped him to minus-4. He atoned for that error with a birdie on No. 12.

Nixon birdied the 14th and followed with his third birdie in three days on the par-5 15th. He closed his round with a birdie on the 18th to finish one clear of the field.

"I really enjoyed it, the sun's been shining and I played really nicely. I don't remember much about it apart from the fact that I kept knocking them close and knocking the putts in," Nixon said. "If I could do that again tomorrow it would come in handy. Today, the conditions are obviously a little better, but it was just one of them days. I had a nice start and it just kept going. Exactly the same day tomorrow would be nice."

Crespi posted consecutive birdies at two and three. He gave those shots right back with bogeys at four and five. He again had back-to-back birdies on the six and seventh.

The Italian faltered to a bogey on the eighth. Around the turn, Crespi traded a birdie for a bogey from the 10th. After all that up-and-down play, he was 2- under, but that quickly changed.

Crespi began his climb up the leaderboard with a birdie on the 13th. He birdied 14 and 15, both for the third straight round. Crespi wasn't finished either.

He also birdied the 16th and 17th to make it five in a row, which got him within one of the lead. Crespi parred the last to end there.

"I am very happy because I played great all day long. Always in the middle of the fairway, hitting for the pin, just waiting for birdies and finally they came, five in a row. And that's it, that's the way to make 6-under," said Crespi. "I was patient, normally I am a very patient person."

NOTES: Nixon had missed the cut in five of his last six European Tour starts ... Crespi, who made the cut in three of his last seven tour events, has two wins on the European Challenge Tour.