Gonzalez Snatches Lead in Portugal


European TourPORTIMAO, Portugal -- Ricardo Gonzalez tied a course record with his 8-under 64 on Saturday, vaulting into the lead at the Algarve Open de Portugal with a third round that included a birdie-eagle finish.
Gonzalez has completed three rounds at 13-under-par 203 and leads defending champion Paul Broadhurst by one shot. Broadhurst, the first and second round leader, managed just a 1-under 71 Saturday to reach 12-under-par 204.
Jarmo Sandelin, Carl Suneson and Anthony Wall share third place at 11 under after each fired rounds in the 60s. Niclas Fasth and Charl Schwartzel are one stroke further back at minus-10 following matching 67s.
But everyone is looking up at Gonzalez, who collected seven birdies and one eagle with just one dropped shot to match the Le Meridien Penina course record.
'I hit a good driver today and made a lot of fairways, and I think that is the key for a good round,' said Gonzalez, a three-time winner on the European Tour who ranks second in stroke average this season.
Long off the tee, Gonzalez is currently ranked in the top 20 in driving distance. The Le Meridien Penina course doesn't really set up for that type of player.
'I think this course is for short hitters and good putters,' Gonzalez said. 'But today I made 64 and made [the course] easy.'
Gonzalez hasn't won since the 2004 Open de Sevilla, but in the last three months he has put together three top-six finishes.
'The last five weeks I've played great, made a lot of good rounds,' he said. 'And I'll try to make another good round tomorrow. I need to concentrate, relax and see every shot.'
If his final round is anything like Saturday's, a fourth win is more than a possibility. It's a probability.
Gonzalez, 36, opened his round with a par before posting back-to-back birdies to reach 7 under. He added three straight birdies from the fifth -- one each on a par-5, par-4, and par-3 -- and was minus-10 around the turn.
A bogey at the 544-yard, par-5 10th set the Argentine back a stroke, but he regained that with a birdie at the next hole. Five straight pars followed until Gonzalez birdied the 17th, a par 4, and eagled the 18th, a short par-5.
Gonzalez's power was on full display at the 477-yard finishing hole, where he ripped a two iron off the tee and then knocked a 7 iron within 12 feet.
'I now have a lot of confidence to take into tomorrow as I have been getting better and better every day,' said Gonzalez, 'I hope that I can continue that tomorrow.'
Broadhurst, now with no shot to become the fifth wire-to-wire winner at this 53-year-old event, played his first 10 holes Saturday at minus-3 and held a comfortable lead at 14 under.
But it went all wrong for the Englishman beginning at 16, where he got stuck behind a fir tree on the way to a double-bogey five that dropped him below Gonzalez for the lead.
A bogey at the next moved Broadhurst even further back, but he was able to make up a stroke when he birdied 18 for the third straight day, rolling in a 30-foot putt to finish.
'I am still in with a chance tomorrow,' said Broadhurst. 'It's not over. You never know at this course -- anybody could shoot 75, but then again 17 under might be the winning score if someone goes out and plays really well.'
Related Links:
  • Paul Holtby's Scorecard
  • Full Coverage - Open de Portugal
  • Golf Channel Airtimes