Leading duo capable of leaving the chasing pack behind
Bjerregaard and Coetzee swinging nicely
Story so far
Lucas Bjerregaard leads the Portugal Masters by a shot going into the final round at the Dom Pedro Victoria course, Vilamoura.
The power-packed Dane, 70-1 in one opening show on Monday before being backed into 50-1 by tournament-eve, has reached 14 under par though 54 holes. The European Tour maiden has become 7-2 favourite with 18 holes to play.
George Coetzee is alone in second place, with British duo Eddie Pepperell and Marc Warren among those tied for third place.
Most of the ante-post market leaders have flopped. Andy Sullivan missed the cut by three shots, while Thomas Pieters is 71st of the 75 weekend qualifiers and Thorbjorn Olesen is 51st. Shane Lowry, 16-1 at the outset, is still in the hunt, sharing 12th place, four shots behind.
-14 Lucas Bjerregaard
-13 George Coetzee
-12 Eddie Pepperell, Marc Warren, Nino Bertasio
-11 Ashun Wu, Chris Paisley, Thomas Detry, Nacho Elvira, Graeme Storm, Joost Luiten
-10 Nicolas Colsaerts, Sebastian Soderberg, Phachara Khongwatmai, Jose-Filipe Lima, Shane Lowry
7-2 L Bjerregaard, 9-2 G Coetzee, 8 E Pepperell, 14 M Warren, J Luiten, N Bertasio, 16 S Lowry, T Detry, 20 N Elvira, A Wu, 28 C Paisley, G Storm, 40 N Colsaerts, 90 J-F Lima, 100 bar
Lucas Bjerregaard has a wonderful swing and is bursting with effortless power. The Dom Pedro Victoria is one of his favourite courses on the European Tour and there must be every chance of a breakthrough victory coming in Vilamoura.
A 26-year-old Romain Wattel won his maiden title in the KLM Open last week and Bjerregaard, seven months younger than the Frenchman, is also looking to strike at 26. The difference between the two is that Wattel has been a European Tour regular since 2011, while Bjerregaard did not start a full schedule on the main circuit until 2014. The Dane could be closing his fourth campaign with a first trophy.
Bjerregaard has finished ninth and 12th in the Portugal Masters the last two years, signing off with a spectacular 63 in his previous visit. The course is perfect for his style of play and more Sunday birdies seem almost certain.
George Coetzee, though, is equally at home on this layout, with form figures of 3-6-21-31, and he has returned from a two-month break looking better than ever. The newly slimline South African finished third in the KLM Open last Sunday and has carried that excellent form to Portugal. As a three-time Tour champion, he will be confident on a leaderboard featuring lots of maidens.
Bjerregaard and Coetzee should serve up several birdies in the final twoball, putting pressure on the chasing pack. The leading duo are swinging well and full of course comfort.
Racing Post Sport followers are in a strong position, with three ante-post each-way recommendations in the thick of things. Bjerregaard (55-1) and Coetzee (33-1), along with Nacho Elvira (80-1), who is sharing sixth place, are all onside, so punters who have backed that trio may want to have some cover on other contenders.
Eddie Pepperell is probably the biggest potential party pooper. The Englishman appears to have rediscovered his appetite for the game and has found some form over the last few weeks. A three-putt bogey on the 18th to close round three, though, does not bode well for his ability to triumph in a tight finish on Sunday.
Nino Bertasio and Joost Luiten both finished round three strongly and must be respected, while birdie machine Thomas Detry is another live threat from just off the pace.
Cautious punters with decent wagers on Bjerregaard, Coetzee and Elvira may choose to have some each-way investments on Pepperell, Bertasio, Luiten and Detry, but personal preference is to stick with the original stable. The 9-2 Coetzee is arguably the best value at this stage, given he is a proven winner in this grade.
The final-round twoballs card is unappealing, so the advice is to stick with the original plan, cheering on Bjerregaard, Coetzee and Elvira. Punters yet to get involved should consider the 9-2 Coetzee.