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Broadhurst and Fichardt Share the Lead in Madrid

England's Paul Broadahurst and South African Darren Fichardt shot 68 and 67 respectively to head a congested leaderboard in which 11 players were within two strokes of the third round lead in the Open de Madrid at Club de Campo.

Broadhurst, the halfway leader, enjoyed a solid finish with birdies at the 16th and 17th to edge back into a share of the lead with Fichardt, who had birdied four oout of five holes from the fourth.

However both players considered themselves more fortunate than Swede Johan Edfors, whose ball mysteriously disappeared after he hit an errant tee shot at the 18th.

Edfors, requiring a top two finish to retain his European Tour card for 2005, received the backing of his playing partners, Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland and Denmark's Anders Hansen, that the ball must have been picked up by a spectator.

However in the absence of hard evidence, the ball was deemed lost and Edfors returned to the tee and finished with a double bogey for a round of 69 and 54-hole total of 202, two behind the leaders.

It was a frustrating end to an adventurous round from Edfors, who bagged six birdies and an eagle but also had four bogeys and that unfortunate double bogey six at the last.

Edfors, winner of last year's Challenge Tour Rankings, said: "It was not a nice way to finish. It's impossible to lose your ball there and it's quite expensive. I would have paid a lot for that ball."

However the Swede is far from out of the title hunt as the field bunched at the top. Broadhurst and Fichardt were closely tailed by three players on 201, 12 under par, with Edfors one of six men on 202.

One of the more impressive forward moves came from Spaniard, Ivo Giner, who went to the turn in two under par to give no hint of the fireworks to follow.

However, Giner birdied five of the last eight holes to storm round in a seven under par 64, thanks to a closing brace of birdies, to move within a stroke of the lead.

McDowell shot a 67 to join the Spaniard on that mark with Australian Brett Rumford, who stepped up his bid to add the Open de Madrid to his Nissen Irish Open title earlier this season with a third round 66.

Edfors's last hole drama meant he slipped back alongside Hansen, Miguel Angel Jimenez of Spain, Australian Terry Price and Raphael Jacquelin of France, who matched Giner's 64.

Giner, who needs to finish in the top two to retain his playing privileges for 2005, said: "It's going to be a difficult day, full of tension."


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