Golf-Willett leads heading into final round of Alfred Dunhill Links Championship

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FILE PHOTO: The 149th Open Championship

(Reuters) -Former Masters champion Danny Willett produced an impressive bogey-free round of six-under 66 to claim a three-shot lead at the end of the third round of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Saturday.

The Englishman finished the day at 14-under for the tournament, ahead of overnight leader Tyrrell Hatton, who started brightly with four birdies in the opening five holes before letting his advantage slip with three successive bogeys on the back nine to end with a one-under 71.

"Got off to a very nice start, and then just hit a couple of loose shots, just lost all momentum, to be honest. I think from the eighth hole, just never really got anything going our way," said Hatton.

"I think there were only a couple of times where I had a realistic birdie chance, and I hit a good putt, and it bobbled off line or whatever."

Hatton was tied for second place with the trio of Shane Lowry, Richard Bland and John Murphy, all of whom made the most of friendly scoring conditions at the Old Course at St Andrews.

The Old Course will play host to the final round on Sunday after being used in rotation -- alongside Carnoustie and Kingsbarns -- for the first three days of the event.

Former British Open winner Lowry, who featured in Europe's Ryder Cup defeat at Whistling Straits last week, looked in superb touch as he fired five birdies on the front nine that included a 24-foot putt on the second to finish with a five-under 67.

"There's a bit of fatigue... obviously, it's a bit of calm now from last week (at the Ryder Cup)... but it's still a big tournament. I'm a competitive person. When I come to play, I want to do well. So, I'm out there giving it my all," said the Irishman.

"Anybody that's involved in golf and has been here knows that this place is probably one of the most special places in the world... so, to be able to lift the trophy on that green will be incredible."

Willett is gunning for his first win on the European tour in over two years, while Hatton would make it three victories at the same tournament if he prevails on Sunday, having previously held aloft the trophy in 2016 and 2017.

(Reporting by Dhruv Munjal in BengaluruEditing by Toby Davis)

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