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With his birdie on the final hole at Real Club Valderrama in Sotogrande, Spain – one of precious few made by the whole field on Saturday – Laurie Canter positioned himself firmly atop the leaderboard with one round to go at the Andalucia Masters.
Canter, of England, posted a round of 4-under 67 to reach 7 under for the tournament. That put him three shots ahead of Matthew Fitzpatrick in second and four ahead of David Lipsky.
Breezy conditions made for a difficult day for the field, but Canter mixed eight birdies, including two at the starting two holes, with four bogeys.
The 31-year-old Canter is looking for his first European Tour win but he has three second place finishes in the last two seasons, including at the 2021 BMW PGA Championship. He has won in Spain before, too, having claimed the 2011 Spanish International Amateur.
“The golf course doesn’t give you loads,” he said. “Although, as we all know, there’s opportunities to drop shots here. I think what it means is I can go out tomorrow and play how I have these last couple of days. The score I end up on will be competitive, I think. That gives me a lot of confidence going in.
“The course is asking a lot of different challenges and you can’t dwell when it goes against you. I’m trying to stay as level as I can and I’m doing a good job.”
Valderrama is a former Ryder Cup venue, having hosted the 1997 matches. Fittingly, Fitzpatrick is competing there for the first time this week since the Europeans lost the Cup last month.
He is seeking seventh win in as many seasons on the European Tour.
“I’m excited to be in the final group,” Fitzpatrick said. “The aim at the start of the week is to be up there. It doesn’t get better than having a chance to win on Sunday. I’ll go out there and enjoy it.
“Valderrama was a real test today. I’m really pleased with the way I grinded it out and I’m happy with the one under.”