Shane Lowry and Padraig Harrington are the leading Irishmen in a huge posse chasing down Spain’s Rafael Cabrera-Bello in the final round of the Portugal Masters.
The Spaniard shot an eight under par 64 at Oceânico Victoria Golf Course in Vilamour to lead by one on 18 under from Christian Nilsson and Felipe Aguilar.
Lowry, who fired three birdies in a bogey-free 69, is tied for 13th and six shots behind Cabrera-Bello on 12 under par with Harrington a shot futher back after a 67.
With the winning total likely to exceed 20 under par, Harrington and Lowry need to shoot in the low 60’s to have any chance of winning the €416,660 top prize.
A round of 60, which Cabrera-Bello shot to win his first and only tour title in the Austrian Open in 2009, would be just what the doctor ordered.
Cabrera-Bello carded five birdies, two eagles and one bogey in his 64, explaining: “It felt really good, I’ve been playing good the last few days.
“My goal today was to try and do the same thing. The two eagles definitely gave me a big boost and I think I played pretty solid.
“I did not make many mistakes. I’ve been hitting my irons really good this week, hitting them close and giving myself lots of opportunities and I’ve been able to make a few. Hopefully I can keep it up tomorrow.
“I probably won’t be leading tomorrow by the time I tee off so I need to perform well and try to hit a low round again.”
Sweden’s Peter Hanson and Denmark’s Thomas Björn are just two shots off the lead on 16 under, Hanson carding a superb 64 and Björn - seeking his fourth win of the season - returning a 66.
Harrington was also bogey free as he got up and down for par five times out of five but will be disappointed only to pick up one stroke coming home (at the 15th).
He needed birdies after Friday’s 71 but having gone to the turn in 32 with birdies at the fourth, fifth, sixth and eighth, he ran out of inspiration on the home stretch.
Overnight leader Simon Khan is just four behind Cabrera Bello after one-under par 71 that was matched by Peter Lawrie, who still fell 13 places to tied 25th on 10 under.
Damien McGrane hit a 69 to move up to tied 47th on eight under with Gareth Maybin, 110th in the Race to Dubai.
Maybin needs a decent cheque to secure his tour card with a place in the top 115 but a 72 saw him plummet 25 places on the leaderboard.
Sponsor’s invite Gary Murphy had a day to forget after an 82 left him propping up the 74-strong field.