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Larrazabal rallies to maintain lead after birdie fest

ESPN staff
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Larrazabal is in pole position at the BMW International Open having extended his overnight lead © Getty Images
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Pablo Larrazabal birdied four of his final six holes on Saturday to forge a healthy three-shot advantage heading into the final round of the BMW International Open in Koln.

Larrazabal, who won the Abu Dhabi Championship in January, moved away from the congested field with a peerless run home before sinking a 10-foot par putt on the final hole to card a 67, meaning he has yet to drop a shot this week.

"My game wasn't good today. I didn't hit the driver good. I put myself in a little bit of trouble. But I knew how to handle it and how to keep it going," Larrazabal admitted afterwards. "I made some birdies coming in but I can play better golf."

The round of the day, however, was from Richard Green who propelled himself into contention with a faultless 10-under par 62. The Australian recorded six birdies and an eagle after the turn to move into a tie for second alongside seven other players including Rafa Cabrera-Bello who finished with three consecutive birdies.

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Argentinian Emilio Grillo, 22, was left to rue a slip-up on the final hole having been the day's pacesetter after play resumed following a lengthy suspension due to thunderstorms. Grillo is hoping to win his first European Tour event this week at Golf Club Gut Lärchenhof but a double-bogey on the par four 18th saw him slide back into the chasing pack on 14 under.

He inexcusably found the water from the rough on the 54th hole, an error that may suck the momentum from his charge. Larrazabal's lead is by no means decisive, however. World No.2 Henrik Stenson is among those in hot pursuit while Race to Dubai leader Thomas Bjorn is also poised to challenge on Sunday.

England's Paul Casey, who started the day on the cut line, heads a group a further shot off the lead. Casey provided the day's early fireworks with a round of 63 that included nine birdies to climb 43 places only to be bettered by Green's exploits.

Oliver Fisher and Wales' Jamie Donaldson are also among those four shots off the lead with Danny Willett, Mark Foster, Paul Waring and Simon Dyson inside the top 20.

Branden Grace's slim hopes of mounting a challenge faded as he called a two shot penalty on himself after his caddie had held the umbrella over him as he putted during the heavy cloudburst early in the day. The South African recovered from his mishap on the second to finish on eight under.

With further storms forecast for the final round, play has been brought forward to start at 7am local time with a two-tee start in hope of concluding before the bad weather arrives.

BMW International Open Leaderboard

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