Olesen breaks out of pack to lead by three after third day of Sicilian Open

Thorbjorn Olesen at the Sicilian Open
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Thorbjorn Olesen recovered from a bogey at the sixth on Saturday at the Sicilian Open to make four birdies and an eagle to move to 12 under through 54 holes.
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Series: European Tour

Published: Saturday, March 31, 2012 | 2:27 p.m.

Thorbjorn Olesen of Denmark made four birdies and an eagle for a 5-under 67 to lead the Sicilian Open by three strokes on Saturday heading to the final round.

Olesen, who was runner-up three times in his debut season on the European Tour last year, superbly managed the 16 mph gusts off the Mediterranean.

With the halfway lead shared by six overnight, only Olesen broke clear in the testing conditions at the Verdura Golf & Spa Resort.

For the eagle on the par-5 14th, he reached the green in two before sinking a difficult putt from 15 feet.

The 22-year-old Dane recovered from a bogey at the sixth to sink four birdies and an eagle at the par-5 14th and move to 12 under for the tournament.

John Daly, in the mix after the second round, carded a 72 Saturday and is six shots off the pace.

Andrew Parr of Canada and Nicolas Colsaerts of Belgium are Olesen's nearest challengers on 9 under.

Parr fired five birdies in a flawless round of 67 to storm up the leaderboard. Colsaerts' third round was more mixed, with six birdies and three bogeys, but he completed the course in 69 to move into contention.

Lloyd Saltman heads a group of three players on 8 under, the Scot also going round in 69 with birdies at the second, 11th and 13th.

Soren Kjeldsen carded a 1-under 71 to join Saltman alongside Peter Lawrie, who had a second consecutive round of 72 after opening with a 64 on Thursday.

England's Steve Webster, American Scott Pinckney and Spaniard Jose Manuel Lara are a further shot behind on 7 under.

Lawrie and Kjeldsen had been among a group of six players tied for the lead overnight, along with David Lynn, Jamie Donaldson, Maarten Lafeber and Pelle Edberg.

Edberg's third round had got off to a flying start with three birdies in the opening four holes, but four successive bogeys between the sixth and ninth knocked the Swede off track. He eventually finished the round in 75 to sit seven shots off the lead.

Olesen, who will be aiming to win his first European Tour title, admits he found the windy conditions difficult to master at times.

"I struggled a little bit on the front nine, but managed to hang in there and was pleased to pick up two shots after making a bogey on the sixth hole,'' he said. "That got me going a little bit and I was able to make a few more chances on the back nine.

"Sometimes the gusts were so strong, especially on the coast, that you just got blown away. It was tough just to stand up sometimes, let alone play golf."

The Dane is now hoping he can reproduce the same form in his final round.

"I know that I'm going to have to play very well tomorrow, because there are a lot of great players up there and you can't win on The European Tour by playing average golf," he said. "My confidence is very high at the moment because of the way I'm playing, and hopefully I can finish the job off."

Parr, ranked 848 in the world, is another surprise name on the leaderboard and was delighted with his round on Saturday.

"I was hitting the ball really well all day and I just found a nice groove out there," said the 28-year-old. "After a little break from playing competitive golf it takes a little while to find your rhythm again, but each day I've felt more and more comfortable out there. Today was just a very solid day."