Paul McGinley’s putter let him down as he carded a five over 77 to go into the final round of the BMW International Open eight shots behind leader Danny Willett.
The 45-year old Dubliner, chasing his first tour win for seven years, birdied the first but then had six bogeys and used the blade 34 times in a five over par effort that saw him crash from joint second overnight to tied 27th in Cologne.
Willett, 24, carded a three under par 69 to lead by a shot on 12 under par at Gut Lärchenhof from fellow Englishman Chris Wood (70) and Sweden’s Joel Sjoholm (72).
Chasing his maiden win, the 2007 Walker Cup star said: “I got the ball under pretty good control most of the day,. The wind was whipping around a bit but I drove the ball great which makes it a lot easier around this golf course.
“If you want to be in contention, you have to have things go your way a little bit. It’s good to be back in a position where I feel like I should be.
“Tomorrow is just a case of making sure you go through everything properly, make sure you get the right numbers in your hand and you have the right feeling for the shot and see what you can do.
“Regardless of tomorrow, we have got a spell of four really good weeks, Open Qualifying Monday, and then we go Ireland, France, Scotland and then there are some great events at the end of the season. So I’m just looking forward to being able to play probably another 12 or 13 events on my schedule this year, fairly fit, lots of training and get on a really good leap forward from where I’ve been.”
Damien McGrane also had an average day on the greens, taking 33 putts in a 73 that left him tied for 48th on one under.
Newcastle’s Simon Thornton got off to a poor start dropping four shots in his first 11 holes before carding three birdies and a bogey in the last six for a 74 that left him on one over and tied 57th.