Kjeldsen takes 2-shot lead at Irish Open

Newcastle, Northern Ireland (SportsNetwork.com) - Soren Kjeldsen fired a 4- under 67 in Saturday's third round and he will take a 2-shot lead into the final day of the Irish Open.

Kjeldsen, a three-time winner on the European Tour, finished 54 holes at 7- under-par 206. The Dane was one of six second-round co-leaders and has not won since the 2009 Open de Andalucia.

"Competition is pretty hard out there," said Kjeldsen. "It's not easy to win and it's not like I have played poorly for six years, but it's nice to have a chance and it would mean everything to win this event. But it's too early to think about that. There are a lot of great players behind me and I need to play well (Sunday) to have a chance. It's still that open."

A day after Tyrrell Hatton tied the course record of 66 originally set by Jimmy Bruen in 1939, first-round co-leader Maximilian Kieffer shot a 6-under 65 to set the new mark at Royal County Down Golf Club. He is tied for second with Rafa Cabrera-Bello (69) at 5-under 208.

Hatton, Bernd Wiesberger and Richie Ramsay carded matching 1-under 70s, putting them three shots back in a tie for fourth at minus-4.

Kjeldsen was on fire throughout most of his round before tripping up a bit toward the end, otherwise his third-round advantage could have been that much greater.

The 40-year-old started off nicely with a birdie at the first and then ran off three straight pars from two. Back-to-back gains at five and six had Kjeldsen rolling and he made the turn with four straight pars from seven.

Kjeldsen's big move came when he drained three consecutive birdies from No. 11, getting him up to minus-9. With five holes left he too was threatening to break the course record, needing to play the rest of his round at even par.

However, following a trio of pars from 14 and taking a 4-shot lead into the final two holes, Kjeldsen bogeyed both 17 and 18 to fall back to 7-under, trimming his advantage to two.

"If you had given me 67 (when I) stood on the first tee I would have been very happy," said Kjeldsen. "I played terrific all day and didn't think I did too much wrong on the last two holes, so I will focus on the first 16."

Kieffer had the best round anybody ever has at Royal County Down and he did so with a bogey. The German started off with birdies on two of his first three holes before tripping to that bogey on No. 4.

It was smooth sailing from there for Kieffer as he later made four birdies in six holes from No. 7. Sitting right on the record with six holes left, Kieffer made five pars and a birdie on 15 to set the mark.

Bello was very up and down during his round. In fact, he was just 1-under through his first 15 holes with four birdies and three bogeys.

An eagle at the par-4 16th turned out to be big as it pushed Bello up to minus-6, but a bogey at the last saw him fall back into a tie for second.

NOTES: Kjeldsen's other two wins came at the 2003 Diageo Championship at Gleneagles and the 2008 Volvo Masters ... After there were just 14 rounds in the 60s on Thursday and Friday combined, Saturday featured 15 sub-70 rounds ... First-round co-leader and 2007 champion Padraig Harrington struggled to a 7-over 78 and sits in a tie for 36th at 5-over 218.