Karlsson edges towards double achievement

Red-hot Robert Karlsson has a third successive victory and the European Order of Merit title in his sights.

Winner in Germany and Scotland on his last two starts the 39-year-old Swede moved into a tie for the lead at the Portugal Masters today before a thunderstorm ended play for the day.

Karlsson and England’s Ross Fisher, playing together just two weeks after they clashed in a play-off for the Dunhill Links Championship at St Andrews, were both on 14 under par and on the 17th green when officials decided it was too dangerous to continue.

Big-hitting Spaniard Alvaro Quiros was on the same mark and still had five holes of his third round to complete on Sunday morning, but halfway leader Stuart Manley – 174th on the money list and 575th in the world – was only joint sixth after crashing to a triple bogey seven on the seventh.

Former Open champion Paul Lawrie did the same thing after he had charged into the lead with a remarkable run.

The Scot resumed with a double bogey six, but then played the next five holes in seven under with two eagles and three birdies.

However, a pitch over the green was followed by a poor chips and three putts to leave him playing catch-up again if he was to end six years without a victory.

He was another of the 12 players who had to resume at 7.50am Sunday.

As for Lee Westwood, third on the Order of Merit, he became less of a danger to Karlsson by managing only a level par 72 and staying in the pack on five under.

“Tired golf – my tolerance levels are very low,” said the Worksop golfer. “And I sounded like Gordon Ramsay if you get up close to me out there today.”

He three-putted four times, three of them on par fives after hitting the green in two.

Karlsson has played even more this season, but adrenalin is kicking in more for him and he commented: “I’m pleased with my focus – so far so good.

“I’m a bit tired, but not too bad and both Ross and I were playing well.”

European Open champion Fisher, seventh on the money list, still has a mathematical chance of catching Karlsson.

But despite going to the turn in a brilliant 30 and then adding a seventh birdie on the long 12th he said: “I’m not going to change my schedule and play next week.

“I think Robert deserves it. Yes, Padraig Harrington has won two majors and that’s just phenomenal, but for me for consistency Robert has been far superior.”

Manley set off again with two birdies in his first four holes, but that was undone by a hooked drive into the lake on the seventh.

He still had a lot to play for even if he could not catch the leaders. Third place tomorrow would earn him nearly £150,000 and secure his Tour card for next season.

Karlsson had a hat-trick of birdies from the third and then three more in four holes from the 12th.

He cannot clinch the money list race before the Volvo Masters in two weeks’ time, but winning again would leave him within touching distance of the Vardon Trophy – and would also make him the first player since Tiger Woods two years ago to claim three titles in a row on the circuit.

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