Zions of Australia moves three clear after 54 holes at Saint-Omer Open

matthew zions
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Despite the wet, windy weather, Matthew Zions carded seven birdies to go with three bogeys on Saturday.
By
PA Sport and Associated Press

Series: European Tour

Published: Saturday, June 18, 2011 | 5:16 p.m.

Matthew Zions mastered some tricky conditions on Saturday at the Saint-Omer Open to put himself firmly in the frame for his first European Tour title.

The Australian carded seven birdies and three bogeys -- including four successive birdies from the ninth hole -- to complete the round in 4-under 67 and open up a three-shot lead heading into the final day.

2011 SAINT-OMER OPEN

The Saint-Omer Open has been on the European Tour schedule for seven years, and each of its champions made this event his first European Tour win.

Strong winds and heavy rain made things difficult for the golfers, with only nine players below par on the leaderboard at the end of the third round.

The 32-year-old Zions, who lies 6 under for the tournament, is now hoping he can continue his form on Sunday.

"It was fantastic," he said. "It's so windy out there that it's borderline not being able to play. But I hit it great and putted amazingly. I feel like I'm getting better each day, particularly with my putting, and the hole is looking big right now.

"This is a good spot to be in and I'm excited about tomorrow,” he added. “It's my first time leading a European Tour event going into the last round and it's pretty cool, but the most important thing is to still be there tomorrow."

Englishman Daniel Denison leads a group of three players on 3 under for the tournament, alongside South African George Coetzee and Federico Colombo of Italy. Denison also completed his third round in 67, with five birdies and one dropped shot on the par-four 12th.

Colombo signed for a level-par 71 with two bogeys on the back nine hampering his challenge, while a double bogey on the par-4 16th pulled Coetzee back to 1 over for the round.

“I played the hole perfectly but had the most impossible putt in the world on the 16th,” he said. “It was only two feet but it was downhill and with a crosswind and I just tried to lag it in. But it missed and just kept trickling miles past, and I missed the return.”

Ireland's Simon Thornton and Scotland's Craig Lee share fifth place on 2 under, with Thornton one of the day's big movers, climbing 27 places following a 67.

Lee had held the overnight lead with Italian Andrea Perrino, but hit four bogeys in a 3-over 74. Perrino fared even worse with four bogeys and a double bogey leaving him a stroke further back on 1 under.