Late charge brings Davies level with Donald in Madrid

By Norman Dabell

MADRID (Reuters) - Briton Rhys Davies sank two birdies in the last three holes to take a share of the lead with his more experienced compatriot Luke Donald after the third round of the Madrid Masters Saturday.

Davies began Saturday's penultimate round at Real Sociedad Hipica club a stroke behind Donald but his five-under-par 67 to Donald's 68 left them locked together at 16-under-par 200, two shots in front of Italy's Francesco Molinari (65).

Alvaro Quiros had an even better finish than Davies when he delighted the Madrid gallery by setting himself up with the chance of claiming a Spanish double.

Quiros won the Spanish Open earlier this month and his birdie-birdie-eagle finale for a joint best of the week 64 hauled him within three strokes of the leading pair.

Welshman Davies, who celebrated his 25th birthday Friday, has dogged Donald all week, sharing the lead with the English former Ryder Cup player on day one and trailing him until a 12ft putt on the penultimate hole earned him a share of the lead.

Davies is proving the potential of an illustrious amateur career and is poised to repeat his March success when he won the Hassan Trophy in Morocco by leading for most of the week.

MINOR MISTAKES

Only a double-bogey on the short seventh prevented him leading outright.

"It is similar to Morocco but I tried not to think about winning there and I'll be doing the same tomorrow," Davies told reporters.

"I made just two minor mistakes today and got severely punished for the one on the seventh, where I had a terrible lie and couldn't get the ball on to the lower tier of the green.

"But I knew I could get it back with lots of birdies."

After making his fourth birdie at the 10th, however, to stay two shots clear of the field, Donald's round stalled.

"I played the front nine really well but struggled a bit on the back side," Donald told reporters.

"I'm really proud of the way I'm rebounding from last week's disappointment, though. That shows a lot about my character."

Quiros may be favorite now, though, after an exhilarating finish in which he holed two 15ft putts and then chipped in for a two from just under 60 yards on the final hole.

(Editing by Ken Ferris)