BIRMINGHAM, England (AP) — Eddie Pepperell holed a birdie putt from 40 feet on the 18th to take a one-shot lead after the third round of the British Masters and move into position to win the event for the second time in four years.
The English golfer shot a second straight 4-under 68 at The Belfry to jump to 10 under par and emerge from a logjam at the top of the leaderboard.
Six players were one stroke off the lead — Scotland’s Robert MacIntyre and Calum Hill (both 70), Italians Edoardo Molinari (64) and Guido Migliozzo (67), Poland’s Adrian Meronk (65) and South Africa’s Dean Burmester (65) — and the top 26 players were separated by five shots.
Tournament host Danny Willett was three shots off the lead after a 68.
Pepperell was in the world’s top 35 after winning this event at Walton Heath in 2018 and again after finishing runner-up in his title defense at Hillside, but has fallen down the rankings. He began the week in 210th.
“(Confidence returns) quite quickly, although I’ve been awful to be honest so I don’t feel that confident,” Pepperell said.
“I’ve still got things going on in the swing that I can feel aren’t where they once were and can cause me aggro, so the game still feels difficult. I remember the game feeling easier when I was playing better a few years ago. That’s what I’m trying to get back to and I’m confident I will.”
MacIntyre, the highest-ranked player in the field at No. 45 and tied for the lead after the second round, dropped only one shot when he could not resist attempting to drive the green on the 10th.
The left-hander vowed to maintain his positive approach in the final round.
“The way I play golf is aggressive and the course suits me perfectly,” he said.
“I didn’t drive it my best today but I hit my irons beautifully, they were all over the pin but the putter was cold. It was on fire the day before so hopefully it turns up tomorrow.”
Molinari surged into contention for a first victory since 2017 after finally finding a solution to his putting problems. The 40-year-old Italian made nine birdies, with a lesson from the brother of fellow professional Chris Paisley on Tuesday quickly paying dividends.
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