Former champion Thomas Pieters moves into pole position at Czech Masters

Belgian golfer one clear Spaniard Adri Arnaus after battling 66 on Saturday

 Thomas Pieters of Belgium plays from the bunker on the par-three 13th hole during the third round of the D+D Real Czech Masters at the Albatross Golf Resort  in Prague. Photograph: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

Thomas Pieters of Belgium plays from the bunker on the par-three 13th hole during the third round of the D+D Real Czech Masters at the Albatross Golf Resort in Prague. Photograph: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

 

Former champion Thomas Pieters will take a one-shot lead into the final round of the D+D Real Czech Masters after posting a battling 66 on Saturday.

The 2015 winner produced a round of two halves on day three, making one bogey and five birdies in his first seven holes – including four on the spin from the fourth – before tapping in for an eagle at the long ninth to hit the front.

Despite beginning his back nine with a bogey after finding the thick rough and then making seven straight pars, Pieters was still in a share of the lead as he stood at the 18th tee.

And he closed his round with a delightful birdie from around 12 feet to get to 16 under par and take the outright lead.

Spaniard Adri Arnaus was Pieters’s nearest challenger on 15 under after making seven birdies in his sparkling third-round 65.

After his round, Pieters told the European Tour’s website: “I think the key to that front nine was the driving. I hit it really far and straight so that was presenting a lot of birdie opportunities and a lot of short clubs into the holes.

“To convert the putt on nine after a wonderful six iron in was great and it’s the closest I’ve come to a two on a par five.

“I struggled a bit on the back nine. I stayed patient, though, and got a nice birdie to finish.”

Swede Robert Karlsson, 49, and halfway leader Edoardo Molinari were among the players in a tie for third on 14 under.

Paul Dunne made a move in the right direction during the third round, a three-under 69 that included four birdies leaving the Greystones golfer on six under.

Pádraig Harrington dropped back through the field after a one-over 73 where four birdies were offset by five bogeys as he finished on two under for the tournament.

Meanwhile, Soomin Lee was disqualified on Saturday afternoon after his caddie failed to remove the flagstick on the 11th green, having been instructed by Lee – who was on seven under par – to attend it.

A statement from the tournament’s chief referee Kevin Feeney read: “Under Rule 13.2a, the player may make a stroke with the flagstick in the hole, but, if the player wishes for it to be attended, the flagstick must be removed after the stroke is made. As the flagstick was deliberately not removed and the ball holed, Rule 11.2c applies.

“Under Rule 11.2c (2), if the stroke is made from the putting green, the stroke does not count and the original ball or another ball must be replaced on its original spot. (See Rule 14.2). This would have carried a penalty of two strokes.

“As the player did not fulfil the provisions of 11.2c before playing from the next teeing ground, he is disqualified under Rule 3.3c [failure to hole out].”

LEADERBOARD
(British and Irish unless stated, par 72 (a) denotes amateur):

200 Thomas Pieters (Bel) 67 67 66

201 Adri Arnaus (Esp) 71 65 65

202 Robert Karlsson (Swe) 67 68 67, Hugo Leon (USA) 66 69 67, Rikard Karlberg (Swe) 69 67 66, Edoardo Molinari (Ita) 66 66 70

203 Kristoffer Reitan (Nor) 66 71 66, Erik Van Rooyen (Rsa) 65 72 66

204 Liam Johnston 67 69 68, Sam Horsfield 69 66 69, Jack Singh Brar 69 68 67, Mikko Korhonen (Fin) 70 67 67, Matthias Schwab (Aut) 70 65 69

205 JC Ritchie (Rsa) 70 67 68, Masahiro Kawamura (Jpn) 72 68 65

206 Daniel Gavins 71 67 68

207 Kalle Samooja (Fin) 68 70 69, Andrea Pavan (Ita) 68 68 71, Chris Hanson 69 70 68, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (Esp) 70 70 67, Lee Slattery 65 71 71, Jacques Kruyswijk (Rsa) 69 67 71

208 Joachim B Hansen (Den) 66 70 72, Jason Scrivener (Aus) 67 71 70, Romain Wattel (Fra) 68 71 69, Haydn Porteous (Rsa) 69 70 69, Alexander Bjork (Swe) 71 68 69, Bernd Wiesberger (Aut) 67 70 71, Kim Koivu (Fin) 66 72 70

209 Ben Evans 72 69 68, Tapio Pulkkanen (Fin) 69 69 71, Robert Macintyre 69 72 68, Ashley Chesters 70 68 71, Gavin Green (Mal) 64 75 70, Matthew Southgate 70 70 69, Scott Jamieson 72 67 70, Bradley Dredge 70 71 68, James Morrison 73 68 68

210 David Howell 69 71 70, Berry Henson (USA) 70 68 72, Nicolas Colsaerts (Bel) 70 69 71, Renato Paratore (Ita) 71 68 71, Oliver Fisher 69 72 69, Aaron Rai 72 69 69, Ivan Cantero Gutierrez (Esp) 71 67 72, Paul Dunne 70 71 69, Thomas Bjorn (Den) 70 71 69, Wilco Nienaber (a) (Rsa) 69 68 73, Alexander Levy (Fra) 70 70 70

211 Sihwan Kim (Kor) 70 68 73, Ricardo Gouveia (Por) 70 71 70, Liam Robinson 70 71 70, Paul Waring 70 71 70, Zander Lombard (Rsa) 68 70 73, Victor Dubuisson (Fra) 70 67 74, Dean Burmester (Rsa) 70 69 72, Tom Murray 70 69 72, John Catlin (USA) 70 69 72, Dimitrios Papadatos (Aus) 71 69 71

212 Mathiam Keyser (Rus) 71 70 71, Richie Ramsay 70 71 71, Espen Kofstad (Nor) 74 67 71, Chris Lloyd 70 70 72

213 Stuart Manley 71 70 72, Justin Walters (Rsa) 72 69 72, Darren Fichardt (Rsa) 67 74 72

214 Matthew Nixon 70 67 77, Bryce Easton (Rsa) 68 73 73, Pádraig Harrington 73 68 73

220 Jeff Winther (Den) 69 72 79

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