Atzenbrugg, Austria – Thomas Norret posted a two-under 70 on Saturday to grab sole possession of the lead after 54 holes of the Austrian GolfOpen.
Norret, one of four second-round co-leaders, finished three rounds at nine- under-par 207 and is two strokes clear of several players at Diamond Country Club.
Robert Coles and Joost Luiten, two more golfers who shared first overnight, both managed even-par rounds of 72 and share second with Kenneth Ferrie (67) and Simon Wakefield (70). The group finished at minus-seven.
Victor Dubuisson (67) and Mark Brown (69) are knotted in sixth at six-under 210.
Norret started beautifully on Saturday with a birdie at the first, a hole almost everyone else near the top of the leaderboard bogeyed. He parred his next six holes, then a big swing came at the par-four eighth.
Coles, who bogeyed No. 1 but birdied the third, birdied the eighth. Norret hit a horrendous drive that resulted in a penalty drop and a bogey. The two- shot swing resulted in Coles taking over first.
Both players birdied the par-five 10th and bogeyed the par-five 13th. The next swing hole became the par-three 15th, but this time, Norret made birdie, Coles recorded a bogey and Norret was back in front.
The Englishman Coles birdied No. 16 to tie Norret in first, but the Dane birdied 17 to inch back ahead. Coles bogeyed the last while Norret made par to take the 54-hole lead, which is a surprising place to see Norret's name on a leaderboard.
Norret has zero top 10s so far in the 2011 season and only two top 20s, but the former winner on the Challenge Tour actually believed this type of play would come.
"It's been coming for a while. I've actually felt like I've played quite nicely and just haven't been able to keep it up on the weekends," said Norret. "I've been putting really well. I'm not worrying too much about the few mistakes I've made. It's been nice."
Norret's lone win on the Challenge Tour came nine years ago and in the meantime, he left professional golf to join a management company for golfers. He'll have to remember back to a different time in his life to come through on Sunday.
"I'm going to go out tomorrow and try and do the same thing I did today," said Norret. "It might not be quite as easy as today. I'm definitely going to feel it, but I'm going to do my best and hopefully have a good day tomorrow as well."
Christian Nilsson and Joakim Haeggman both shot rounds of two-under 70 on Saturday and are tied for eighth at minus-five.
NOTES: Gaganjeet Bhullar was the fourth second-round leader, but a six-over 78 on Saturday dropped him into a tie for 30th at one-under par...Tom Lewis and Andy Sullivan made their pro debuts this week and Lewis is tied for 23rd at two-under, while Sullivan is four-over through three rounds.