Thomas Norret shot a 2-under 70 Saturday to take a two-stroke lead into the final day of the European Tour’s Austrian Open.
The 37-year-old Dane, who is yet to win a European Tour event, is ranked 173rd and needs a strong finish to the season to retain his card. Norret ended the third round with an overall 9-under 207.
AUSTRIAN GOLF OPEN
The Austrian Open is being played for the second straight year at Diamond Country Club near Vienna, after spending four years at Fontana Golf Club.
Kenneth Ferrie had the best round of the day with a 67, sharing second place with fellow Englishmen Simon Wakefield and Robert Coles along with Joost Luiten of the Netherlands at 7 under.
Norret birdied the first hole but dropped a shot at the par-4 eighth before three more birdies on his back nine.
England’s Tom Lewis shot a 70 to share 23rd in his professional debut. Gaganjeet Bhullar of India, who shared the lead overnight, had a 78 and dropped to 30th place.
Norret assumed his lead after Coles bogeyed three of the last six holes as Norret birdied the 15th and 17th holes at Diamond Country Club.
Ferrie made a rocky start with bogeys on Nos. 3 and 5, but a run of six birdies in nine holes from the seventh catapulted him into contention.
Norret, who won his only Challenge Tour title nine years ago, will head into Sunday hoping work he has done on the mental side of his game will pay dividends.
"I just have to go out there tomorrow and try to repeat the feeling I had today, try to relax and enjoy it," he said. "It will be tougher to do that in the final round and I will definitely feel the pressure, but that's why I have been doing all the work on the mental side of the game.
"I will definitely be talking to the mental coach tonight," he added. "Hopefully we can get me over the line."
Norret described his third round as pleasant.
"I felt relaxed for most of the day. I was nervous at the beginning of the round but then hit a great approach into the first and made birdie and that really calmed me down for the rest of the day and took the pressure off me," he said. "The wind was a lot stronger today than yesterday, so it was a tough golf course.
"I have been playing well for a while now and making a lot of cuts, but just not doing much on the weekends," he explained. "I have been putting well this week and keeping it all together so it is nice to get some forward momentum on a weekend.
"You have to put well here but I have been working hard with my mental coach and really trying to focus on enjoying myself out there."
Norret made early headway Saturday with a birdie on the first -- a hole he double bogeyed Friday -- but dropped a shot at the eighth to be level par at the turn. He was a shot adrift of Coles at that stage, but three birdies on the back nine -- spoiled only by a bogey at the par-5 13th -- ensured he will head into Sunday as the man to catch.
Coles, in contrast, had a disappointing start, bogeying the par-4 opening hole where he picked up birdies in each of his first two rounds. But he recovered well, picking up shots on three, eight and 10 before faltering late on.
New Zealander Mark Brown (69) and Frenchman Victor Dubuisson (67) were three shots off the pace with Swedish pair Joakim Haeggman and Christian Nilsson a further stroke adrift after 70s.