COLOGNE, Germany, Oct. 6 (UPI) -- Bernhard Langer birdied the final hole at Gut Lärchenhof Golf Club to stay just ahead of the chasing pack after the third round of the Linde German Masters in Cologne. The 44 year old fired a 68 for a 17 under par total of 199 and a one shot lead over three players.
Breathing down the neck of the Ryder Cup player and co-promoter of the event are England's Greg Owen, Stephen Leaney of Australia and Swede Fredrik Lindgren while American John Daly is one of four players sharing fifth place on 14 under par.
Langer, chasing his 11th title in Germany and his fourth in the Linde German Masters, was aware of the threat posed by Daly -- winner of the recent BMW International Open in Munich -- whose 64 was jointly the day's best along with Anders Forsbrand.
"I am not sure if e is my greatest threat, but John is obviously able to go very low and he's in good form" said Langer. "I would imagine he is one of the main contenders, but I would consider anybody around 13 under and better as a threat."
Daly, meanwhile, was equally effusive about the prospects of Langer, his host this week and the man who organised the private jet which whisked the American and his wife to Germany.
"Bernhard is hard to beat when he gets in the lead if you look at his past tournament record. He's good at staying on top and he'll be hard to beat" insisted Daly.
Certainly Langer has the knack of winning on home soil and he remains the favourite going into the final day, even though the others turned up the heat on a glorious day which saw the crowds stream onto the course to watch their national golfing hero in action.
The trio ganging up behind him all shot five under par 67s, Leaney making the most of a disappointing start with a blistering finish. Out in 37 after back to back bogeys at the fifth and sixth, the Australian charged home in 30 assisted by a timely chip-in for a eagle at the 15th.
"I struggled with my composure over the first six holes" he said. "There was a lot of movement and cameras clicking but I hung in there mentally which has been the key this week. I knew if I was patient I would make some putts and I did that."
Jacobson gathered in five birdies in an eight hole spell from the ninth but missed the chance to lead the tournament when he bunkered his approach to the 17th and he took a bogey five after being in a horrible lie.
Owen, who led the Open Championship after 35 holes at Royal Lytham & St.Annes, continued his impressive forward momentum. The joint first round leader goes out in the final group for the second time in three weeks after doing the same in the Omega European Masters won by Ricardo Gonzalez.
"This is the second time in three weeks so obviously things are going pretty well for me" said Owen. "Everybody wants to win tournaments. That's what we play for and to be in this position in such a strong field is good. I am delighted to be coping as well as I am."