Leader Fraser looking for birthday boost at Malmo

Australian Marcus Fraser hopes to celebrate his 31st birthday tomorrow with the second European Tour victory of his career.

Australian Marcus Fraser hopes to celebrate his 31st birthday tomorrow with the second European Tour victory of his career.

Fraser, whose only previous success came in the 2003 Russian Open, moved from five behind into a one-stroke lead with a third round 70 at the SAS Masters in Malmo.

The longest course in Tour history – Barseback measures 7,665 yards – took its toll on overnight leaders Ricardo Gonzalez and Lee Slattery.

The Argentinian dropped to fifth place with a four over par 77, while Englishman Slattery, one behind at halfway, could do no better than 75.

Fraser stands eight under, one in front of Slattery, Swede Martin Erlandsson and Dane Jeppe Huldahl, winner of the Wales Open at the start of last month.

Fraser was still way off the pace after covering his first eight holes in one over, but then came birdies at the ninth, 11th, 12th and 17th.

“Just keep plodding along – that’s all the mindset was,” he said. “This is a tough course.”

Last November Fraser lost a play-off for the Australian Masters to compatriot Rod Pampling, but he was excused for having his mind on other things.

Wife Carlie was in hospital both before and after the round after showing signs of going into labour, but it was actually five more weeks before son Archie was born.

“It was a bit scary on the day, but we came out of it well and he’s a cool little man.”

Slattery, first round leader with a six under 67, went two in front after 10 holes, but then bogeyed three of the next five.

Gonzalez had to wait until the 11th hole for his first birdie and it proved his only one of the day. After dropping three shots before that further bogeys came on the 16th and 17th.

The third member of the group had a tough time too. Scotland’s former US Amateur champion Richie Ramsay was also round in 77 and fell all the way to 19th on two under.

He might still feel he has a chance. Not so pre-tournament favourite Henrik Stenson, whose season of highs and low continued when he bogeyed seven of the first nine holes en route to a 79.

The world number seven – he will move up to fifth on Monday regardless of where he finishes – is down in 75th place on seven over.

Playing on his home course Stenson pledged all his winnings this week to his new Foundation charity, but it won’t be the €165,000 first prize he was hoping for.

“I’ve always struggled on the greens here since they relaid them,” said the winner of the Players Championship in Florida in May. “You hardly ever see so many misreads – it’s just tricky to get the right lines.”

German Marcel Siem managed six birdies on them, yet still went round in 80. His day also included four bogeys, two double bogeys and a quintuple bogey nine on the 17th.

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