SHEFFIELD'S Matt Fitzpatrick will take a commanding lead into the final round of the Nordea Masters on Sunday after repelling a spirited challenge from Nicolas Colsaerts in Stockholm.
Fitzpatrick took a three-shot lead into the third day at Bro Hof Slott Golf Club thanks to a flawless 65 on Friday, but saw that wiped out in the space of eight holes by playing partner Colsaerts.
The Belgian, who has not won since victory in the Volvo World Match Play Championship in 2012 led to him being selected as a Ryder Cup wild card, birdied the fourth and sixth to close the gap as Fitzpatrick recorded a string of pars.
And the 33-year-old then moved into the outright lead thanks to a two-shot swing on the eighth, where he holed from 20ft for birdie and Fitzpatrick failed to get up and down from short of the green.
However, Fitzpatrick instantly bounced back from only his second bogey of the week with a birdie on the par-5 ninth and regained the outright lead with another two-shot swing on the 10th, the 21-year-old holing from 20ft for birdie as Colsaerts bogeyed following a wild drive.
Fitzpatrick, who won his first European Tour title in the British Masters last year and was seventh in the Masters in April, then rolled in a hat-trick of birdies from the 13th and eventually signed for a 68 to finish 15 under par, five shots ahead of Colsaerts and defending champion Alexander Noren.
Victory on Sunday would see Fitzpatrick regain third place in the Ryder Cup qualifying race from Chris Wood, who won the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth last week.
Fitzpatrick said: "I'm delighted. There's still a round to go and it's golf so anything can happen, but obviously it's nice to have played well today and hopefully I can take it into tomorrow.
"It was a bit of a slow start, and I find the front nine more difficult than the front nine, especially in the wind. But I stayed patient and got my rewards in the end. It's one of the things I've learned since turning pro.
"It helps that the course is in such fantastic condition and the weather's been perfect. The greens are pristine and the way I've putted on them, it won't surprise you to learn I'm a big fan of them. I wish we could putt on them every week.
"The crowds have also been brilliant. There were a lot of people out there so it'll be interesting to see how many we get along tomorrow. I'm sure they'll be supporting Alex Noren because I'm playing with him in the final group, but hopefully there will be one or two cheering for me too."
Noren had looked out of contention when he followed a front nine of 33 with bogeys on the 10th and 11th, but then birdied the next four holes to reignite his challenge for back-to-back titles.
Lee Westwood's chances of a record fourth victory in the event look to be over after the former world No 1 carded a 72 to finish five under par, one ahead of home favourite Henrik Stenson.
Huddersfield's Chris Hanson continues to impress on his first season on tour.
The Woodsome Hall player added a third round 70 after opening with 72 69 and stands in a tie for 12th place.
He was out in three under, but dropped a shot at the 10th. Holes 13 and 15 saw him card further birdies, but their effect was negated by bogeys at 14 and 16.
Nonetheless, he is in good shape to earn a sizeable cheque and move himself back up inside the top 110 who, at season's end, will earn playing rights for next season.
"I played solid, not too many mistakes in what was a very different and much stronger wind," said Hanson.
"I'll look to keep up the intensity in my focus and hopefully we shall have a fun Sunday.
"It's a great, challenging course and makes you think about how to play the course every hole."
Malton's Simon Dyson, who showed signs of a return to form after following Thursday's 74 with a 69, suffered on Saturday.
He shot 83, which included three double bogeys and no birdies, and sits last of the weekend's competitors.