sport

Pieters on top in Spain

World number 690 Thomas Pieters will take a two-shot lead into the last round of the Spanish Open after Miguel Angel Jimenez's charge faltered.

Jimenez surged two clear of the field thanks to six birdies in his opening 13 holes at PGA Catalunya, but bogeyed the 15th and 18th to card a third round of 69.

That left the 50-year-old, who was fourth in the Masters last month and then won on his Champions Tour debut seven days later, on five-under-par and allowed overnight leader Pieters to reclaim top spot with birdies at the 15th and 16th in a round of 71.

"I'm a little disappointed with that," admitted Jimenez, who has no plans to switch to the seniors circuit as he chases a fifth Ryder Cup appearance at Gleneagles in September. "I didn't hit it very well the last few holes.

"I played very well the first nine holes and was solid until the 14th but made a bad bogey on the 15th where I three-putted from eight metres and also bogeyed the last."

Jimenez is already the oldest winner in European Tour history, beating his own record by winning the Hong Kong Open for a record fourth time at the age of 49 years and 337 days last December.

But despite 20 tournament victories to his credit the world number 34 has never won his national open and added: "It would be nice. I'd love to win the Spanish Open of course and we'll see what happens tomorrow."

Pieters only turned professional in June last year and secured his European Tour card via the qualifying school at PGA Catalunya in November, aided by an opening round of 64.

The 22-year-old said: "It was a solid day. I hit solid shots and really played to my strengths. I got two over par early just because my short game wasn't sharp enough but I took advantage of the par fives again today and the shots dropped in the end.

"I stayed really patient, you need to be on this course and I'm getting better and better at it. You know that it's going to be a hard day and an even par is a good score.

"I've always done well on really tough courses, I like grinding it out, not having to shoot six or seven under. Today I shot one under and I'm in the lead.

"I'm excited for tomorrow. I'll just go out to play golf, obviously playing for a win too.

"Playing with Jimenez will be fun, I'll get to learn a lot from him and I'll just soak it all in. I've never played with him or any of the big names. The crowd will also be bigger and all the support will go to him but I just have to play my own game."

Scotland's Richie Ramsay, England's Chris Wood and Australian left-hander Richard Green are three shots off the lead on four under, Ramsay holing a putt estimated at 100 feet on the eighth for one of his five birdies.

England's Ross Fisher is among a five-strong group on three under, the Tshwane Open winner carding a best-of-the-day 67 which included two eagles.

"I'm very pleased," Fisher said. "Starting the day two over par I wanted to get into red figures and I managed to do that.

"I played really well and the difference from yesterday to today was that I had the speed of the greens. Yesterday I really struggled, I felt the greens were a lot slower than they were on Thursday morning so I'm pleased to go out there and play a solid round of golf."