Caldwell takes tumble as Coetzee hits the front in Portugal

George Coetzee, courtesy of the European Tour

Jonathan Caldwell endured a disappointing moving day tumble as George Coetzee hit the front on Saturday at the Portugal Masters.

For Caldwell’s part, he posted a four-over par round of 75 to fall to a share of 56th at one-under ahead of the final day, where Coetzee will go in search of a fifth European Tour win as he takes a one shot lead into the last round.

The South African produced a remarkable eagle-birdie finish on day three to sign for an impressive 66 and move to 11 under par at Dom Pedro Victoria Golf Course.

Coetzee, who won on the Sunshine Tour at Pretoria Country Club last week, had started the day eight strokes behind Julien Guerrier but the Frenchman’s five stroke overnight advantage turned into a one shot deficit after he failed to make a single birdie in his four over par 75.

The 34-year-old reached the turn in 34 shots after sandwiching a bogey on the seventh between birdies at the fourth and eighth.

After taking advantage of the par four 15th for the third day in a row, Coetzee came agonisingly close to holing his approach into the long 17th for an albatross but had to settle for a tap-in eagle to climb to ten under. And he finished off with a confident 12 foot birdie putt at the last to get to 11 under.

“It was weird,” he reflected. “Kind of felt like I was in a good space today and I didn’t really get going on the front nine, missed a couple of good opportunities on the back nine with the first couple of holes, but then when I started finally making them it was kind of smooth sailing from there. It was a bit of a grind but you just have to kind of hold on tight until you get a good opportunity.

“It would have been nice. I was actually watching earlier on in the week, the top ten shots they have had at this event and I didn’t think anything of it until I saw that ball rolling and I thought ”Ah, this could be number one!’” but in the end really happy where it finished. I was fortunate enough to be right next to Laurie (Canter) and he hit six iron rather smooth, so it made it an easy decision for me to lift the seven iron and it ended up being the perfect club.

“Since the first time I have come here I have always enjoyed playing it. I guess the strategy is quite simple, you don’t have to overthink the golf course, you just have to play it the way it is designed. I have had my fair share of good luck on this golf course, I don’t think it owes me anything.”

Niklas Lemke and Laurie Canter shared fourth place on nine under after firing rounds of 65 and 68 respectively.

Full scoring HERE

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