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Page last updated at 17:39 GMT, Saturday, 18 October 2008 18:39 UK

Karlsson strengthens Merit hopes

THIRD ROUND LEADERBOARD: (GB & Ire unless stated)
Play suspended for the day because of thunderstorm
-14 R Karlsson (after 16), R Fisher (after 16), A Quiros (after 13) -13 S Hansen (after 17) -12 J Kingston (after 18)
Selected others: -11 S Manley (after 13), Paul Lawrie (after 14), Steve Webster (after 18)-5 L Westwood (18)-3 MA Jimenez (18) -1 D Clarke (18)

Robert Karlsson
Karlsson won in Germany and Scotland in his last two tournaments

Sweden's Robert Karlsson strengthened his hopes of winning his first European Order of Merit title in a storm-hit third round at the Portugal Masters.

Karlsson, who is also seeking a third title in a row, was 14 under with two holes to play when play was abandoned at Vilamoura because of a thunderstorm.

England's Ross Fisher and Spaniard Alvaro Quiros were also on 14 under.

Lee Westwood, third on the Order of Merit behind the absent Padraig Harrington, is back on five under.

"I played tired golf - my tolerance levels are very low. I sounded like Gordon Ramsay if you got up close to me out there," said Westwood after a mixed round of 72.

Karlsson started the day on eight under but moved up the leaderboard thanks to a hat-trick of birdies from the third and three more in four holes from the 12th.

He cannot clinch the money list race before the Volvo Masters in two weeks' time, but winning again would leave him within touching distance of the Vardon Trophy - and would also make him the first player since Tiger Woods two years ago to claim three titles in a row on the circuit.

"I'm pleased with my focus - so far so good. I'm a bit tired, but not too bad and both Ross and I were playing well," said Karlsson.

European Open champion Fisher, seventh on the money list, still has a mathematical chance of catching Karlsson.

But despite going to the turn in a brilliant 30 and then adding a seventh birdie on the long 12th he said: "I'm not going to change my schedule and play next week.

"I think Robert deserves it. Yes, Padraig Harrington has won two majors and that's just phenomenal, but for me for consistency Robert has been far superior."

Welshman Stuart Manley, the 575th-ranked player in the world, led overnight on 11 under but slipped down the leaderboard and was tied for sixth on 11 under after 13 holes.

Former Open champion Paul Lawrie had charged into the lead thanks to two eagles and three birdies in five holes but he dropped back to 11 under after 14.

Denmark's Soren Hansen remains in contention and is just one shot behind the three leaders on 13 under with one hole to play of his third round.



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