ATZENBRUGG, Austria -- Denmark's Thorbjorn Olesen retained a firm grip on the Lyoness Open in Austria on Friday after a third-round 68 left him 16 under par and three clear of the field in the small European Tour event.
Atrocious weather at Diamond Country Club on the first two days left half the field still to complete their second rounds on Friday morning. But 22-year-old Olesen was already in the clubhouse with a 12-under-par halfway mark, and on Friday stayed clear of his challengers, having dropped only one stroke throughout his three rounds.
Sweden’s Rikard Karlberg had four birdies in his last six holes, including a 12-footer at the 17th to finish with a 66 in second place.
Benjamin Hebert of France returned a joint best of the week 64 to move into a share of third place with compatriot Thomas Levet, England's Richard Bland and home favorite Bernd Wiesberger.
First-round leader Pablo Larrazabal of Spain seemed to be out of contention when he followed his opening 64 with a 76 and dropped three more shots at the start of Friday. However, he fought back with seven birdies in eight holes for a 68 and 8-under total.
Bland made five birdies around the turn in his quest for his first European Tour win in his 281st start, but missed a six-footer for par at the last to drop into a tie for third with a 68, while Wiesberger went one better with a 67.
Levet dropped shots at the first and third, but the former Alstom French Open winner came storming back with birdies from eight feet at the eighth and 12 feet at the ninth, before sinking an eagle at the long 10th.
Olesen was steadiness throughout, with birdies at the sixth, seventh, 10th and 11th and no dropped shots.
"I didn't hit the ball as well I did the first two days," said Olesen. "But I still had some good opportunities -- I could've taken a few more, but the fact that I'm feeling slightly disappointed with a 68 is probably a good sign, because it shows how well I'm playing and how high my expectations are.
"The ball was flying a lot further through the air because it was so warm," he added. "It got really hot at times -- I'm still sweating a little now.
"It made it a bit tougher, because you had to dry your hands a lot. But I can't complain, because there was no wind at all so it was a perfect day for scoring, and I saw a few of the guys took advantage and went low," he said. "Hopefully I can do the same tomorrow."