Former Open Champ Leads in Portugal


European TourALGARVE, Portugal -- Paul Lawrie, the 1999 British Open champion, fired a 5-under 66 on Saturday to take the lead during the suspended third round of the Estoril Open de Portugal. He stands at 11-under-par 202 as play was called for darkness.
Steady rain fell all day Saturday and caused three weather-related delays.
The first suspension lasted 90 minutes and that happened because the greens were too water-logged. The next stoppage came a little more than two hours later when more storms came through, but they made it back out to the course. The third delay was much briefer than the other two and the rain persisted, but grounds crew members needed some time to fix greens.
In all, the three suspensions lasted approximately three hours. The six remaining players will return to Quinta da Marinha Oitavos Golfe Sunday morning to polish off the third round.
Barry Lane, one of those six golfers, is 3 under par on his round and is alone in second place at 10 under par. His ball is in the 16th fairway waiting for him on Sunday morning.
Paul Broadhurst and Jose-Filipe Lima, the second-round co-leaders, are 1 under and share third place at minus-9. They are playing in the same group as Lane.
Lawrie began the third round in a tie for sixth place, two shots out of the lead. He ran home a 20-foot birdie putt at the third, then drained an uphill 7-footer for birdie at the next to grab a share of the lead.
He never relinquished his spot atop the leaderboard on Saturday. Lawrie two-putted for birdie at the seventh and added another at No. 10. The former holder of the claret jug recorded back-to-back birdies at 13 and 14, then traded a bogey and a birdie over his next two holes.
At the 17th, Lawrie's approach was headed for a bush, but he caught something of a good break. His ball landed in a cart so he was given a free drop. Lawrie chipped on to the green, but two-putted for a bogey.
Things could have been just as bad on 18. Lawrie had little light and missed the green with his second. He pitched to a foot and tapped in for a par to polish off his 66.
'I played nicely again today, I was very solid and apart from hitting the wrong club at the 17th,' said Lawrie. 'It was a really good day and it was good to finish given the fading light.'
Lawrie's last three victories on the European Tour have a common theme - bad weather. His British Open title at Carnoustie, the dunhill links championship in 2001 and the Wales Open in 2002 were all contested during inclement weather.
'I can't deny that I do play well in bad conditions,' said Lawrie, who represented Europe in the 1999 Ryder Cup. 'It's pretty bad back home half the time so I just stand up there and keep playing. It doesn't bother me at all be it a nice day or a horrible day. You have to just try and not let it affect you.'
Lane overcame a bogey at the first with four birdies in a seven-hole span around the turn. He bogeyed the 12th, but birdied No. 14 to get within one of Lawrie.
Broadhurst and Lima started very poorly on Saturday. Broadhurst, who has not won since 1995, tallied back-to-back bogeys at three and four, but mixed four birdies and a bogey the rest of the way.
Lima lost his drive at one out of bounds, then made a mess of the hole when he returned to the tee. He left with a triple-bogey seven, but rebounded. Lima, who is playing his first season after taking the nationality of his Portuguese parents, recorded six birdies and two bogeys the rest of the way.
Both Broadhurst and Lima were one shot down until they both bogeyed 15.
Stephen Dodd (70) and Alastair Forsyth (69) share fifth place at 6-under-par 207. Ignacio Garrido (71), Jonathan Lomas (69) and Richard Sterne (70) are tied for seventh at minus-5.
Neil Cheetham (71), Niclas Fasth (68) and Stephen Scahill (72) are knotted at 4-under-par 209. Ian Garbutt is 2 over in his third round, but is 4 under for the championship with one hole left.
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