McDowell, Maybin share 4-shot lead in Spain

Graeme McDowell pitches to the 10th green during the third round of the 2010 Andalucia Valderrama Masters.

Graeme McDowell pitches to the 10th green during the third round of the 2010 Andalucia Valderrama Masters.

SOTOGRANDE, Spain – Graeme McDowell and Gareth Maybin of Northern Ireland took a four-stroke lead at the Andalucia Masters on Saturday after a windy third round sent scores soaring.

McDowell, the U.S. Open champion, shot a 1-over 72, while Maybin had a 70 to reach 6 under. Conditions were so difficult at Valderrama that only six players were under par at the end of a day that began with 13 in minus territory.

Damien McGrane of Ireland shot a 70 to reach 2 under and grab a share of third with Miguel Angel Jimenez of Spain, who had a 71.

Martin Kaymer, who needs to win or finish second to take Tiger Woods’ place atop the world rankings, improved on his first two rounds, but his 70 still left him nine shots off the lead on the course that staged the 1997 Ryder Cup.

McDowell squandered a good opportunity to take a big lead into the fourth round and boost his bid for a third title this year.

He had a two-stroke lead at the 18th when he misjudged the strength of a crosswind, put his second shot in a greenside bunker and ended up with a double bogey.

“Standing on the fairway I thought about having a comfortable lead and what happened was just careless,” McDowell said.

“But there was enough good golf out there to make me happy. I am going into the Sunday afternoon with a chance to win a golf tournament and that’s where I want to be.”

Maybin struggled early, but stayed in contention for his first European Tour victory.

Beginning the third round two shots behind McDowell, he opened with two bogeys before responded with two straight birdies. He added another birdie at No. 9 and finished with nine straight pars.

Maybin knows he’ll need his best to beat McDowell.

“Graeme is probably the hottest golfer in the world at the moment,” he said.

Niclas Fasth of Sweden, who was third after two rounds only four shots off the lead, was among those who struggled with the wind. He dropped out of contention with six bogeys in nine holes and then lost his temper on the 18th tee.

After a camera shutter clicked as he drove into trees, the Swede stormed into the nearby crowd shouting abuse and branding a club before demanding officials take away the cameraman’s credentials.

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