Hennie in birdie blitz in Portugal

Hennie Otto produced a brilliant third round 63 to roar into contention together with four other South Africans at the Portugal Masters.

The South African had seven birdies and an eagle at Oceânico Victoria Golf Course to reach 14 under, with halfway leader Simon Khan still two hours away from teeing off.

Keith Horne led the South African challenge at 15-under after he shot a 67, while James Kingston joined Otto on 14-under after his 70. Thomas Aiken was two shots further back with George Coetzee on 11-under

The 35 year old Otto – whose best European Tour finish this season is seventh at the Alstom Open de France – made the cut with nothing to spare on five under after rounds of 72 and 67.

Khan was on 13 under and with plenty of birdies on offer in Vilamoura, Otto was unlikely to be leading at the close of play.

But he had given himself a real chance – while his compatriot Coetzee had also climbed into contention with a six under par 66 taking him to 11 under.

“I got it to six under yesterday with three holes to go and then I double bogeyed the seventh,” said Otto. “I had five under par in my head to be the number for the cut, and I chipped and putted on the eighth for par but then managed to birdie nine to get in right on the mark.

“With the early time and fresh greens, I really wanted to have a go. I played well last week but made 18 pars in row in the first round. Yesterday I also played well but didn’t make the putts but I knew it was going to happen sooner rather than later for me.

“You do have numbers in your head this morning before you tee off, but I did hit the ball good today and that is what made the difference.”

First to catch Otto was Spain’s Rafael Cabrera-Bello, who followed birdies at the third and fourth with a chip-in eagle at the fifth.

The Spaniard shot an eight under par 64 at Oceânico Victoria Golf Course to lead by one on 18 under from Christian Nilsson and Felipe Aguilar.

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