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Pieters increases lead in Girona

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Thomas Pieters reclaimed top spot from Miguel Angel Jimenez during the third round © Getty Images
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Thomas Pieters takes a two-shot lead into the final day of the Open de Espana after a one-under 71 on Saturday.

Home favourite Miguel Angel Jimenez had gone two clear after six birdies in his opening 13 holes only to bogey the 15th and 18th for a 69.

That left him at five under with Belgium's Pieters duly reclaiming his place at the top of the leaderboard with birdies on 15 and 16.

"It was a solid day," said 22-year-old Pieters, who earned his European Tour card at PGA Catalunya in November.

"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.

Tour chief apologises over Madeira

  • European Tour chief executive George O'Grady has issued an apology over the decision to continue play at the Madeira Open last week after the death of caddie Iain McGregor.
  • The 52-year-old died of a heart attack while caddying for Alastair Forsyth during the final round, with his funeral to be held in Madeira on Thursday.
  • "We had a full and frank meeting with [Caddies Association] chairman Gerry Byrne and his committee, a meeting which was understandably emotional at times and one during which I apologised to them for the hurt and upset caused by events in Madeira," a statement from O'Grady read.
  • "The decision to finish the tournament was not taken lightly, either by myself or by the tournament officials on the ground.
  • "However, that decision is in the past and the important thing now is we continue to work with Mac's family and friends, as we have done from Sunday, to assist with arrangements surrounding the funeral."

"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 Jiménez 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."

Jimenez, who has never claimed victory at the Open de Espana, said: "I'm a little disappointed with that. 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."

"I'd love to win the Spanish Open of course and we'll see what happens tomorrow."

Open de Espana leaderboard

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