Posted by MSNBC on
CRANS-SUR-SIERRE, Switzerland (AP) -Spain's Miguel Angel Jimenez maintained his three-shot lead after he produced a 3-under third round 68 to reach 17-under in the European Masters on Saturday.
However, his advantage over the Italian Edoardo Molinari, in second place after a 68, could have been four shots but for a momentary lapse of concentration in the thin mountain air of the Swiss Alps.
Standing on the 10th fairway, Jimenez bent down and marked his ball thinking preferred lies were in operation, and when he realized his mistake he had to call a one-shot penalty on himself.
At the time Jimenez was four under par for his round and two more bogeys followed in the next three holes, but he regained his composure to pick up two birdies in the closing three holes.
"I lost a bit of concentration," admitted Jimenez. "I marked the ball thinking it was a preferred lie, but quickly realized my mistake and called the penalty.
"But I was pleased with the round. Sometimes when you have shot 61 the previous day it is difficult to follow it up because when you don't make birdies all the time it seems like nothing is happening.
"So I was pleased to play the first nine in four under and the tournament is now in my hands, but I do know how good Edoardo is at coming from behind on the final day."
Should he win Sunday, Jimenez will record his first victory in 22 visits to Crans-Sur-Sierre for the European Masters.
Molinari also had four birdies in his opening nine holes and when he finally dropped a shot at the par three 13th it was his first bogey in 54 holes of golf since the 14th at Gleneagles last weekend on his way to victory in the Johnnie Walker Classic.
Occupying a share of third place with England's Steve Webster was another Italian, Matteo Manassero, after a 69.
If the 17-year-old can finish in the top five, he will take his winnings as a first year professional beyond 250,000 euros ($322,000) from only six events and become the youngest player to secure his playing card on the European Tour.
Webster moved alongside Manassero with a 7-under 64 which included a spectacular eagle at the par-five 13th.
He had driven into a fairway bunker and then appeared to overhit his three wood into the green. But the ball struck the flagstick and pulled up right by the hole leaving him with only a six-inch putt for his three.
Webster's effort was not the lowest score of the day. That belonged to Ireland's Peter Lawrie who shot a career-best 63 to climb 54 places from Friday's 1-under cutline into a share of seventh place. He was, however, still nine shots behind Jimenez.
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