Bickerton Sole Leader in Canary Islands


European TourTENERIFE, Canary Islands -- England's John Bickerton put himself in good position for his first European Tour victory with a 2-under 69 at the Abama Open de Canarias on Saturday.
Bickerton holds the lead after three rounds at 7-under-par 206, one stroke clear of countryman and co-overnight leader Stuart Little, who stumbled to a 1-over 72 to fall into second place.
Two more Englishmen -- Simon Hurd (67) and Mark Roe (71) -- are tied with Spain's Jose Manuel Carriles (66) for third place at minus-5.
Five players are knotted one stroke further back in sixth place.
Bickerton began his third round in a tie for fifth place at 5 under. He played steadily over the front nine with one birdie and eight pars to make the turn at minus-6.
The 35-year-old quickly moved further into red numbers with consecutive birdies at 10 and 11 before dropping a shot at the 13th -- his first bogey in 20 holes.
That stroke was made up with a birdie at the 15th, but Bickerton fell back to 7 under with a bogey at the par-5 17th before ending his round by parring 18 for the third straight day.
Bickerton owns one title on the Challenge Tour -- won in 1994 -- but has no victories on the European Tour. He needs a good finish to move into the top-115 on the Order of Merit so he can secure his tour card for next season.
'Hopefully I'll just be able to focus on trying to win,' said Bickerton, who currently ranks 118th. 'It would be so nice to break the mold.'
Little imploded with double-bogeys on two of his final five holes, including one at the 18th while he held the lead. The 38-year-old, who currently sits 74th on the Order of Merit, has never finished higher than sixth on the European Tour.
Tied for sixth place at 4-under-par 209 are England's Peter Baker (72), Germany's Kariem Baraka (70), Finland's Mikko Ilonen (68), Stephen Scahill (73) of New Zealand and Argentine Daniel Vancsik (70).
This tournament is the fourth and final dual-ranking event for the European and Challenge Tours this year. The field is watered-down with most of the world's top players competing at the WGC-American Express Championship in the United States.
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - Abama Open de Canarias
  • Full Coverage - Abama Open de Canarias