Howell, Morrison share lead in Spain

Barcelona, Spain ( - David Howell carded a 3-under 69 in Saturday's third round, while James Morrison shot a 4-under 68 and the pair of Englishmen share a 2-shot lead going into the final day of the Open de Espana.

Howell and Morrison finished 54 holes at 7-under-par 209. Howell has won five times on the European Tour, but is winless since 2013. Morrison's lone victory came at the 2010 Madeira Islands Open.

Francesco Molinari, the 2012 champion, used a 2-under 70 at Real Club de Golf El Prat to jump into sole possession of third place at 5-under 211, while Emiliano Grillo (72) and Darren Fichardt (73) are one shot further back at minus-4.

Second-round leader Edouard Espana is alone in sixth following a 4-over 73. He sits at 3-under 213 after 54 holes. Defending champion Miguel Angel Jimenez (72) is one of three players tied for 13th at minus-1.

The 39-year-old Howell, who earned his first victory on tour at the 1999 Dubai Desert Classic, started the day three shots behind the leader Espana.

While Espana went backwards in his round, Howell started off strong by making four birdies over his first seven holes, pushing him to minus-8.

Howell made a mess of the par-3 eighth, however, and settled for double-bogey, dropping him back to minus-6.

After making a pair of pars on nine and 10 to make the turn, Howell got those two shots back with back-to-back gains on 11 and 12. He dropped back to 7- under following a bogey on 13.

Howell then drained a trio of pars from 14 before trading a bogey at 17 for a birdie at the last. In the end Howell had a share of the third-round lead.

"I'm delighted to be in the mix again," Howell said. "I haven't managed to win this year, but I've given myself three chances and this is going to be a fourth chance. Hopefully I'll do it tomorrow."

Morrison, four shots back of Espana to begin round three, did not get off to a great start as he made double-bogey at the par-5 second. The 30-year-old then came back with a flourish by draining four birdies in five holes from three.

Now at 2-under for the day and up to minus-5 for the week, Morrison made the turn with four straight pars from eight before rolling in another birdie at 12.

Three holes later Morrison made his sixth birdie at 15, and like Howell, closed with a bogey at 17 and a gain on 18.

"It's been three very silly days. The first day I was 3-over after five holes and today made a seven at the second out of nowhere and fought my way back again," said Morrison. "It's what you've got to do really. It takes one good shot to get back in it. I've done that all week. I've really maintained my process and my game plan."

Molinari mixed in four birdies and a double-bogey on 17 to move within two of the lead. Espana made just one birdie on his round to go along with three bogeys and a double-bogey.

NOTES: Howell has two runner-up finishes this season, including a sole second- place finish at his last event, the China Open in late April. He also tied for fourth at the Shenzhen International ... Howell began the season by missing three of four cuts ... Morrison has just one top-10 finish, a tie for sixth at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship. He has five missed cuts in 11 events ... Sergio Garcia shot the best round of the day, a 5-under 67, and is tied for seventh at 2-under 214 ... First-round leader Trevor Fisher, Jr. (73) is tied for 16th at even-par.