Date: October 19, 2008

Karlsson edges closer

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 on Saturday before a thunderstorm ended play for the day. Karlsson and England&aposs 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. Richard Green is the sole Aussie left in the field and is toiling away at four-under overall after an even-par third round. 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&aposm pleased with my focus – so far so good.” “I&aposm 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&aposm not going to change my schedule and play next week.” “I think Robert deserves it. Yes, Padraig Harrington has won two majors and that&aposs 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. 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&apos 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. Third Round of the Portugal Masters (Par 72) Play Suspended -14: Ross Fisher 67 70 (after 16 holes), Robert Karlsson 69 67 (16), Alvaro Quiros 66 68 (13) -13: Soren Hansen 73 65 65, -12: James Kingston 69 71 64 -11: Steve Webster 72 67 66, Gregory Bourdy 69 67 (11), Paul Lawrie 70 65 (14), Stuart Manley 65 68 (13) -10: Robert-Jan Derksen 71 68 67 -9: Bradley Dredge 70 70 67, Simon Dyson 71 69 67, David Lynn 70 69 68, Rory McIlroy 69 69 69, Alexander Noren 71 69 67, Magnus A Carlsson 69 66 (14) -8: Angel Cabrera 73 69 66, Andrew McLardy 67 75 66, Anthony Wall 72 66 70, Martin Kaymer 72 65 (17), Felipe Aguilar 68 68 (16), Jyoti Randhawa 66 70 (15) Also: -4: Richard Green (Australia) 71 69 72