WATFORD, England – Alex Noren of Sweden moved in sight of a third European Tour title this year after shooting a second straight 6-under 65 to take a three-stroke lead at the British Masters heading into the final round.
Noren, who has also won the Scottish Open and the European Masters over the past four months, was on 16 under par after finishing his third round Saturday by holing a 45-foot birdie putt.
"It was an amazing feeling because I thought it was a tough putt," Noren said. "You can easily three-putt that and come off with a sour taste in your mouth."
Richard Bland, who held a one-shot lead after the second round, shot 69 and is alone in second place as the 43-year-old Englishman goes in search of his first victory on the European Tour.
Bland stretched his lead to two shots thanks to birdies on the first two holes, but dropped his first shot of the week on the fourth after finding sand off the tee. Bland birdied the last hole, but not in nearly the same style as Noren.
"You're thinking you might actually get two back on him," Bland said about Noren's putt on No. 18. "He had a really tricky first putt, one you would probably three-putt more than most. Fair play to him, he holes it. That's one of those where you've just got to say 'Well done' and come back fighting tomorrow."
Peter Hanson (66), Tommy Fleetwood (68), Bernd Wiesberger (67) and Richard Sterne (67) were tied for third on 12 under and Lee Westwood was a shot further back after a 67, giving the former top-ranked player a chance to end a tough few weeks on a high.
Westwood failed to win any of his three matches at the Ryder Cup as Europe lost 17-11 to the United States, before missing the cut at last week's Dunhill Links Championship mainly thanks to a second-round 82.