Date: April 01, 2007

Martin closes in

The Portuguese Open could produce the first amateur winner in European Tour history on Sunday – and if it happens it should not come as a complete surprise. After a quite stunning back nine of 29 in windy conditions, 20-year-old Spaniard Pablo Martin has given himself another chance to taste victory before he turns professional this summer. Martin, who three years ago in Tenerife led the Spanish Open with only 17 holes to go, returned a joint best-of-the-week 66 to jump from 23rd place at halfway into a tie for third at Oitavos. He is two behind his former Oklahoma State University team-mate Alex Noren, with last year&aposs English amateur champion Ross McGowan in second spot after a 72 in which he struggled to an outward 40 and then came back in 32. Martin has already received the Jack Nicklaus award as the top college player in the States and only five weeks ago he made the halfway cut at a US Tour event in Mexico. This is just his fifth start on the European circuit and, referring to his last round 74 in Tenerife, he said: “I think I have matured a little bit since then. I was at school then and brought my books with me. “Every time you get to play with that pressure you learn things. I have got another chance now and I feel great – it&aposs great even to be in this place.” Australia, however, only has one player participating in the event in the form of David Bransdon, who dropped down the leaderboard to tie on 33rd after carding a three over 74 during the third round. -6: Alexander Noren 71 68 68 -5: Ross McGowan 68 68 72 -4: Pablo Martin 73 70 66, Greame Storm 72 67 70 -3: Taichi Teshima 71 69 70 -2: Alastair Forsyth 73 69 69, Raphael Jacquelin 70 69 72, Michael Jonzon 71 71 69, Paul Lawrie 72 72 67, Andrew Oldcorn 76 69 66, Jamie Spence 72 73 66 Also: 2: David Bransdon (AUS) 71 70 74