European Tour

Karlsson takes control at British Masters

Robert Karlsson (AP Photo)
Robert Karlsson (AP Photo)

Newcastle - Former European number one Robert Karlsson has a chance to end his seven-year winless drought after taking a one-shot lead into the final round of the British Masters on Saturday.

The 48-year old capped his round of a 67 with a ninth-hole eagle to move to 12 under par in cold and rainy conditions in Newcastle.

Sweden's Karlsson has not won since capturing the 2010 season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.

"I didn't hit the ball very good, so I put myself in a lot of trouble but I managed to keep it together very nicely and I'm very proud of the way I scored in the end," Karlsson said.

English trio Ian Poulter (68), Tyrrell Hatton (71) and Graeme Storm (67), along with Scotland's Richie Ramsay (65) and Ireland's Paul Dunne (65), all share second place at 11 under par.

Poulter also ignited hopes of his first win in nearly five years as the world number 55 strives to climb back inside the top 50 after slipping outside the top 200 earlier this season.

"I've come here this week to do a number of things. One is to get back in the top 50 and two is to win this golf tournament," he said.

"I'm now in position going into Sunday. I realistically have to feel I'm in with a shout. Just one back at the minute.

"I need to play better tomorrow than I did today, that's for sure. I'm going to go to the range just now and work on it for maybe an hour, get rid of the frustration.

"Come out tomorrow feeling somewhat refreshed, and hopefully I can be aggressive to those targets out there tomorrow.

"Hopefully I can hold a trophy and get back in the top 50. That would be lovely."

However, looming large over the final day is world number six Rory McIlroy, who is looking to win for a first time this season and keep alive a run of having won at least one event a season since 2009.

McIlroy's 64 for a five-way share of seventh place at 10 under par leaves him only two from the front.

The effort was McIlroy's lowest European Tour round since a second-round 64 on day two at the 2015 Dubai Desert Classic.

"You get yourself into contention and you start to think about things and it would be nice to get a win," said McIlroy, who chipped in for a birdie on the fifth hole and carded three more birdies in a front nine of 31.

"The last couple of tournaments, I've been off pretty early on the weekends and had 50 people following me, where there's thousands out there."

Third round leading scores at the British Masters at the Close House Golf & Country Club, Newcastle, England on Saturday (par 70; GBR and IRL unless stated):

198 - Robert Karlsson (SWE) 66 65 67

199 - Ian Poulter 66 65 68, Graeme Storm 65 67 67, Tyrrell Hatton 63 65 71, Paul Dunne 66 68 65, Richie Ramsay 67 67 65

200 - Rory McIlroy 67 69 64, Shane Lowry 68 66 66, Chris Hanson 64 67 69, George Coetzee (RSA) 63 72 65, David Lingmerth (SWE) 68 70 62

201 - Lucas Bjerregaard (DEN) 67 67 67, Chris Wood 67 68 66, Lee Westwood 66 65 70, Matthew Fitzpatrick 66 69 66

202 - Kiradech Aphibarnrat (THA) 66 70 66, Marc Warren 70 67 65

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