|-16 R Paratore (Ita); -15 J Harding (SA); -14 R Hojgaard (Den); -13 D Whitnell (Eng); -12 S Horsfield (Eng), A Chesters (Eng)|
|Selected others: -11 R Rock (Eng); -9 O Fisher (Eng), A Sullivan (Eng); -8 E Pepperell (Eng); -6 MA Jimenez (Spa); -4 D Law (Sco); Level L Westwood (Eng)|
England’s Sam Horsfield carded a 10-under 61 that included three eagles to put himself in contention heading into the final day of the British Masters.
The 23-year-old improved to 12 under par, four behind Italian leader Renato Paratore, who is yet to drop a shot.
South Africa’s Justin Harding is one back at 15 under, followed by Danish teenager Rasmus Hojgaard and England’s Dale Whitnell at Close House.
Tournament host Lee Westwood slipped to level par with a 72 on Friday.
Westwood – a member at the course, in north-east England, that also hosted the event in 2017 – just made the cut on Thursday but failed to improve in the third round.
The world number 34, the highest-ranked player in the field, recovered from two early bogeys to birdie the sixth, seventh and par-four 11th, before dropping successive shots at 15 and 16.
Horsfield, chasing his first win on the European Tour, started the day just one stroke ahead of Westwood.
He played the front nine in 30, despite a bogey at the fourth, and his second eagle at 10 set up an opportunity to card only the second sub-60 round in European Tour history.
It was not to be for the Manchester golfer as a string of pars followed, but Horsfield did eagle the final par-five at 17 for a 10-under-par 61.
Compatriot Ashley Chesters also sits four strokes off the lead after a round of 68 on Friday.
Whitnell, the 31-year-old former courier driver from Colchester, trailed the English pair before finishing with successive birdies to move to 13 under.
Paratore maintained his one-stroke overnight lead with another bogey-free round, meaning he has not dropped a shot through 54 holes.
“I played really solidly,” said the 23-year-old after a birdie at the last for a second successive 66. “When I made a mistake, I saved it with a good putt.”
Harding, 34, and 19-year-old Hojgaard are both in the hunt for a second European Tour title.
Hojgaard saved par with a 15-foot putt at 13 after taking a penalty drop but then dropped his only shot of the day at 18 to fall two off the pace.
England’s Eddie Pepperell, one of only three players in the field inside the top 100 in the world, birdied the last to move to eight under.
Round one leader David Law and fellow Scot Callum Hill started the day two shots off the lead but are now 12 and eight strokes adrift respectively.