• Aiken shares lead in Sweden

    Thomas Aiken
    Flying high

    Thomas Aiken and Paul Waring will share a three-shot lead heading into the final round of the Nordea Masters after a thrilling day of ebb and flow at Hills Golf Club.

    Waring entered the third round two shots clear of Aiken but the South African turned in 32 to lead by one and his advantage was two shots with six to play.

    A dramatic turnaround saw Englishman Waring hold a two-shot advantage of his own after a birdie on the 17th, before another two-shot swing on the last left the duo tied at the top at 12 under.

    Dane Thorbjorn Olesen and 2006 champion Marc Warren were three shots off the lead, one clear of German Maximilian Kieffer.

    Waring is playing his 200th European Tour event this week in his 11th season since coming through the Qualifying School, having missed large chunks of the 2011, 2012, 2015 and 2016 seasons with wrist and shoulder injuries.

    He finished a career-best 60th on last season’s Race to Dubai Rankings presented by Rolex, with a runner-up finish at the Joburg Open and a third at the Trophee Hassan II, but a tie for ninth in Morocco has been his only top 10 this season.

    Aiken has been an ever-present on Tour since coming through the Qualifying School for the second time in 2008 but the last of his three wins came in 2014, and his week represents a welcome return to form after one top 10 in seven cuts made from 19 events this season.

    He holed a 15-footer on the 2nd and when he got down in two from 80 feet on the par-five 3rd, he shared the lead.

    The 35-year-old hit an excellent tee shot into the 5th to hit the front on his own but Waring got even closer in the group behind and the duo led by four shots.

    Aiken holed a 12-footer on the 8th to get to 13 under but Waring hit back again with a monster putt on the 10th to join the lead and further extend the gap between the leading pair and the rest.

    There was then a two-shot swing on the 12th as Aiken made a remarkable up-and-down from a downhill lie on the bank for a birdie, while Waring dropped a shot after finding the water.

    But Aiken found sand off the tee at the par-three 15th and failed to get up-and-down, with three-putts on the next two greens making it three bogeys in a row and Waring was back ahead.

    The 33-year-old put his second on the 17th green in a similar position to Aiken but he needed just one attempt to get down from distance and led by two.

    Aiken took advantage of the par-five last to cut the gap to one but Waring dropped a shot after putting his second behind a rock and needing a drop.

    Olesen has five top 15s in his last eight starts including his maiden Rolex Series win at the Italian Open and knows a good finish in Gothenburg could go a long way to securing his place on the Ryder Cup Team.

    The five-time European Tour winner bogeyed the 1st after finding sand but holed a very long putt on the 4th put his tee shot to eight feet on the par-three next. A double-bogey after finding the water on the 7th dropped him back but holed a long putt on the 8th to turn in level par.

    Another long putt on the 11th was followed by a 10-footer on the 12th and when the 28-year-old hit a stunning approach into the 16th, he was well positioned for Sunday.

    Warren started with a bogey but birdied the 2nd and then made four in a row from the 9th thanks to some dialled-in iron play. He dropped a shot at the 14th but picked it back on the 16th before missing a short putt to get into double figures on the last.

    Kieffer fired a 66 with seven birdies and three bogeys to sit a shot clear of Australian pair Adam Bland and Lucas Herbert, and England’s Lee Slattery.

    Italian Nino Bertasio, Frenchman Sebastien Gros, Scotsman Scott Jamieson and England’s Robert Rock completed the top 10 at six under.

    Credit: European Tour

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