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Caldwell holds nerve to keep British Masters hopes alive

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Renato Paratore is on course to become the first player to complete a European Tour event without dropping a shot in 25 years. Photo: PA

Renato Paratore is on course to become the first player to complete a European Tour event without dropping a shot in 25 years. Photo: PA

PA

Renato Paratore is on course to become the first player to complete a European Tour event without dropping a shot in 25 years. Photo: PA

Down's Jonathan Caldwell is in the top 10 with one round to go at the British Masters and well on course for his best European Tour finish.

The Clandeboye golfer added a four-under-par 67 in yesterday's third round to reach 10-under par for the week and go into today's final round in a tie for eighth, just five behind leader Renato Paratore.

To date, his best tour finish is a tie for 14th in December's Alfred Dunhill Championship, but with another positive round he will surely surpass that mark.

Yesterday was his first bogey-free round of the week, and he is now on a run of 34 holes without a dropped shot.

It's Caldwell's first start since the Tour swung back into action, having missed out on the opening back-to-back events in Austria.

Having come through Tour school in November, Caldwell is playing only his second season on Europe's top tour, the first coming in 2009 when he failed to retain his card.

He will have no such issues this year, with playing rights set to be retained for 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Nonetheless, he'll be hoping to finish higher than his current 136th-place ranking in the Race to Dubai. Normally, a top-115 spot is required to retain the Tour card.

Paratore is not only chasing the British Masters title at Close House in the final round, but a slice of European Tour history.

If the Italian can again manage to keep a blemish off his scorecard, while turning his 54-hole lead into his second professional title, then he will become the first player to win a Tour event without recording a single bogey in a quarter of a century.

Jesper Parnevik, the maverick Ryder Cup player from Sweden, was the last to achieve this rare feat at the Scandinavian Masters in Malmo in 1995. Of course, neither the record nor the silverware are guaranteed and they are not mutually exclusive.

The pressure simply to prevail is more than enough on its own, particularly as the winner's board of this 74-year-old event includes names such as Bobby Locke, Peter Thompson, Seve Ballesteros, Greg Norman and Nick Faldo. Paratore is wise not to think too far ahead.

"I played really solid these three days, especially the short game which has helped me save some shots when I needed them, so I'm happy with that," Paratore said after a 66 took him to 16-under. "But it is so hard to win out here that all I can concentrate on is one shot at a time and not whatever it could add up to at the end."

South Africa's Justin Harding, on 15-under, and the brilliant Danish teenager Rasmus Hojgaard, one further back, will certainly not roll over after their own 66s, while Dale Whitnell, the 31-year-old who was working as a delivery driver two years ago, is still chasing his dream on 13-under, after finishing birdie-birdie for a 68.

Paul Dunne, the 2017 champion, is well down the weekend field, in a tie for 48th on three-under par, despite yesterday's two-under round of 69 being his best of the week.

At the 3M Open on the PGA Tour Seamus Power endured a round to forget when he followed a promising opening round 68 with a seven-over 78 yesterday that featured an eight on the par-four third hole (his 12th) after three putting from three feet. The Waterford golfer finished on four over par for the tournament, which was led by Americans Richy Werenski and Michael Thompson on 12 under. Brooks Koepka also missed the cut after a level par round left the World No 6 on one-under par, one shot off the cut mark.

Meanwhile, Tiger Woods has announced that he will skip next week's World Golf Championship event in Memphis and head straight to the succeeding week's USPGA Championship. It means that Woods, 44, will have played only three competitive tournaments this year before the season's first Major.

British Masters

Live, Sky Sports, 1.30

3M Open Live, Sky Sports, 5.30

Telegraph.co.uk