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Fitzpatrick In Familiar Territory

Matt Fitzpatrick's love affair with Crans-sur-Sierre continues as he grabbed the third round lead overnight (Photo: Getty Images)
Defending champion Matt Fitzpatrick is back in familiar territory after an equal best of the day 63 vaulted him to top spot on the European Maters leaderboard with one round to play.

The Englishman has a stellar record at the spectacular Crans-sur-Sierre layout in Switzerland where he missed the cut in 2014 but since posted a T7, a runner-up and a victory.

After playing his way into the mix with a Friday 64 the former US Amateur winner went bogey free Saturday with five birdies and an eagle to get to 14-under and establish a two shot lead over France’s Mike Lorenzo Vera.

Five players share third place at 10-under, overnight leader Hideto Tanihara slipping to a share of 10thwith a 1-over 71 to be 8-under for the week.

Ryan Fox remains the best of the Australasians but struggled Saturday with a 2-over 72 dropping him 15 places down the standings to a share of 31st.

An ugly triple bogey at the par-5 ninth proved too much for the New Zealander to overcome and at 2-under for the week is 12 off the pace.

Scott Hend added an even par 70 to his opening scores of 70-69 and heads to Sunday T44 while the last of the Australasians to qualify for the weekend, Josh Geary, endured a horror day and with an 81 fell to the tail of the field.

At the top of the leaderboard Fitzpatrick is looking to make history Sunday by becoming the first player to defend the title since Seve Ballesteros in 1978.

Fitzpatrick was confident after Friday’s round and backed it up with his best career round at the course.

“It was really, really good,” he said of his third round play.

“I would say that everything went well today. I drove it really solid and made some great up-and-downs which has been a bit of a struggle this season to keep the round going.

“There were some real key ones today and that was the difference. It kept the momentum and I managed to kick on.”

Asked what it would mean to become the first to go back to back in 40 years Fitzpatrick said he was keeping things in perspective.

“He (Ballesteros) is a good man to emulate, so hopefully things go to plan tomorrow,” he said.

“You still want to put the pressure on and make birdies. You are going to have to because someone is going to come up from somewhere tomorrow, there is no doubt because you can get it going.

“Hopefully I'll stick to my game plan and make plenty of birdies.”

RULES - BALL MOVED BY WIND:

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