Perthshire, Scotland – Paul Lawrie shot 5-under 67 on Saturday to grab a 1-shot lead after three rounds of the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles.
Lawrie, who won the Qatar Masters earlier this year, finished 54 holes at 12- under-par 204. He will go for his eighth European Tour title on Sunday.
Romain Wattel fired a 9-under 63 to soar 29 spots into second place at minus-11. Stephen Gallacher carded a 65 climb into third at 9-under-par 207.
Gary Boyd (64), Maarten Lafeber (67) and Brett Rumford (71) share fourth place at minus-8 on the PGA Centenary Course at Gleneagles.
Defending champion Thomas Bjorn is tied for seventh place at 7-under-par 209 after a 68 in round three.
Nicolas Colsaerts needs a top-two finish to earn the final automatic qualifying spot for the European Ryder Cup team. He managed a 1-under 71 to slide into a share of 13th at minus-6.
Mark Foster and Richard Finch shared the second-round lead. Foster stumbled to a 3-over 75 to end at minus-5, while Finch faltered to a 6-over 78 to fall to 2-under 214.
Lawrie was chasing Wattel from the start of his round since the Frenchman teed off some three hours before him. Lawrie converted back-to-back birdie chances at the second and third.
After four pars in a row, Lawrie converted a birdie effort on the eighth to get within one of Wattel at 10-under.
Around the turn, Lawrie tripped to a bogey on the 10th, but came right back with his third birdie in three days at No. 11. Lawrie birdied the 13th to grab a share of the lead.
Lawrie 2-putted for birdie on the par-5 14th to move one clear. However, he faltered to a bogey on the 15th. Lawrie erased that mistake with a 10-foot birdie effort on the 16th. He parred the last two to lead by one.
"Yeah, I played solid. I hit a lot good shots out there again and holed a bunch of 6- and 7-foot putts, which you've got to do out there," Lawrie said. "It was a very satisfying day."
Wattel, 21, flew into the lead early on with a stellar front nine. He birdied the second and fourth to move to minus-4. Wattel ran off four consecutive birdies from the sixth to jump into the mix.
After a par on No. 10, Wattel birdied the 11th. He stumbled to a bogey at 13, but came back with birdies on 14 and 16. Wattel closed with a birdie at the last to finish with a 1-shot lead. Lawrie moved ahead of him later, but Wattel is still in sight of earning his first tour title.
"It was really nice. I really enjoy every time you score low," Wattel said. "I especially enjoyed today, because it's a tough course, so for the third round, I needed a really good score to be back in the game and that's what I did. I'm really, really happy."
NOTES: Lawrie has won five of the previous six times in which he held at least a piece of the 54-hole lead, that includes his win earlier this year at the Qatar Masters...Wattel has just two top-5 finishes in his career and they both came last year at the South African Open and Open de Espana.