Pieters pushes lead to 2 in Spain

05/16/2014 2:12 PM

05/17/2014 12:27 PM

Girona, Spain (SportsNetwork.com) - Thomas Pieters managed a 1-under 71 on Saturday and that helped him extend his lead to two strokes after three rounds of the Open de Espana.

Pieters, who will go for his first European Tour title on Sunday, finished 54 holes at 7-under-par 209.

Miguel Angel Jimenez, who won his Champions Tour debut a month ago, shot 3- under 69 and moved into second place at minus-5.

Richard Green and Chris Wood both carded 69s in round three. They were joined in third place at 4-under-par 212 by Richie Ramsay (71).

Ross Fisher (67) and Joost Luiten (74) headline a group of five players that share sixth place at minus-3 at PGA Golf de Catalunya.

Pieters led by one at the start of the round, but bogeys at two and five dropped him to minus-4, where he trailed Jimenez by one.

The Spaniard birdied the second, then poured in three straight birdies from the fifth to jump to 6-under. Pieters was briefly two behind, but he birdied No. 6 to stay one back. Jimenez stumbled to a bogey on No. 9 to create a tie between the two golfers.

As Pieters parred five in a row from the eighth, Jimenez regained the lead with back-to-back birdies at 12 and 13. The birdie on the 13th came from well over 75 feet out and it moved Jimenez to minus-7.

Pieters traded a birdie for a bogey from the 12th. Jimenez, who was on the clock for slow play, 3-putted for bogey from the fringe on the par-5 15th to slip to 6-under.

Jimenez, who has never won this event, missed the green at the last, and that led to a closing bogey, and opened the door for Pieters.

"I'm a little disappointed with that (finish). I didn't hit it very well the last few holes," Jimenez admitted. "I played very well the first nine holes and was solid until the 14th, but made a bad bogey on the 15th where I 3- putted and also bogeyed the last."

Pieters came back from his bogey on 13 with a birdie on the 15th. He has played that hole in 4-under par through three rounds with two birdies and an eagle.

At the 16th, Pieters rolled in a birdie effort from the fringe to move to minus-7, where he was two clear of Jimenez. Pieters parred the final two holes to end there.

"It was a solid day. I played really well, and hit solid shots," Pieters said. "Just like yesterday, I got 2-over par early. My short game wasn't really sharp enough. I took advantage of the par-5s again today."

NOTES: This is the first time Pieters has had the 54-hole lead on the European Tour ... In his 13 previous European Tour starts, Pieters has just one top-10 finish ... Jimenez is already the oldest winner in European Tour history. He was 49 years, 337 days old when he won the Hong Kong Open in December.

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