Lafeber storms into lead

Dutchman Maarten Lafeber just missed out on a European Tour record today, blitzing a back nine 28 in the third round of the Estoril Portuguese Open at Oitavos Dunes.

Lafeber had five successive birdies before chipping in from 20 yards for an eagle on the long 16th, then left himself a 25-foot chance on the last to match the record 27 for nine holes.

Five players have done that and one of them, Robert Lee, has managed it twice, but the 34-year-old left his effort short.

He was happy enough, however, with a seven under par 64 – also one outside the course record – and after starting the day down in 43rd place he had charged into sole possession of the lead.

On six under par Lafeber, whose only Tour win in 284 starts came in his home country six years ago, was two in front of England’s Ross McGowan and David Lynn, Scotland’s former Open champion Paul Lawrie and Dane Mads Vibe-Hastrup.

Overnight leader McGowan had played only four holes, but as the wind picked up strength he had to work hard to cover them in one over.

The 2006 English amateur champion, who also led the event at halfway two years ago before slipping back to 17th, had to hole seven-footers for par on the opening two greens, but then bogeyed the 354-yard fourth.

Lawrie birdied the first and fourth to get in the hunt, Lynn was four under for his first 11 holes, while Vibe-Hastrup returned a 65 after surviving the halfway cut with nothing to spare at two over.

Lafeber was on that mark himself during his second round, but said after his superb burst: “I played great yesterday, but had 35 putts and didn’t get anything out of the round.

“I thought if I could get to two or three under I might have a little chance tomorrow. Then came that fantastic back nine.”

Scot Chris Doak and Spaniard Carlos Del Moral, two Tour rookies who were joint second when they teed off again, quickly fell back into the pack.

Doak, having made an 18-footer to save par on the first, bogeyed the second and double-bogeyed the short third, while Del Moral bogeyed three of the first five.

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