Tapio Pulkkanen takes third round lead for first time in career at Czech Masters

Tapio Pulkkanen will take a two-stroke lead into the final round of the Czech Masters after a 6-under 66 on Saturday.

Three shots off the lead after the second round, the 31-year-old did not drop a shot in the third round until the par-4 17th. He bounced back with his seventh birdie on No. 18 at the Albatross Golf Resort near Prague for a 13-under 203 total.

It’s the first lead for Pulkkanen after the third round in his career.

“It was a solid round — better than the first two,” Pulkkanen said. “A lot of good putts and a lot of good iron shots. Off the tee I was pretty straight today as well, so I’m happy with that.”

Seeking his first European Tour title, Pulkkanen looked confident ahead of the final round.

“I feel like I can play both aggressive and defensive here this week. I feel like I can win here.”

Former British Open champion Sweden’s Henrik Stenson dropped his first shot at the Czech Masters on No. 6 to finish the round at 3-under 69 and share second with two Americans, Johannes Veerman (68) and Sean Crocker (70) at 11 under.

“I’m pleased with the way I managed my way around the golf course,” Stenson said. “I’m still battling some things in the swing — I don’t know how visible it is on the outside but I’m certainly feeling it. It’s hard to turn around two or three bad seasons in one week. But I’m positive with the progress.”

American Paul Peterson (68), who won the Czech Masters in 2016, was another stroke back in fifth.

Overnight leader Sweden’s Sebastian Soderberg dropped four shots on the front nine with a double bogey and two bogeys. He had another bogey on the back nine to finish on 73, tied for sixth on 9 under with another Swede, Philip Eriksson (68), Englishman Sam Horsfield (67) and Poland’s Adrian Meronk (72).

Play was delayed by more than two hours due to fog on Saturday morning.

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