Reigning champion Fitzpatrick hits the front at European Masters

Englishman Matt Fitzpatrick is on target to emulate Seve Ballesteros after moving two shots clear at Crans-sur-Sierre Golf Club.

Matt Fitzpatrick salutes the crowd at the European Masters.   -  Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

Matt Fitzpatrick moved into a two-shot lead after the third round of the European Masters, boosting his hopes of retaining the title he won in 2017.

Having carded a 64 on Friday to move up the leaderboard the Englishman went a shot lower 24 hours later, his blemish-free 63 carrying him to 14 under par.

Fitzpatrick had three birdies and an eagle on his front nine and, while his scoring slowed up after the turn, a three at the par-four 18th increased his advantage over his nearest rival, Frenchman Mike Lorenzo-Vera.

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The 24-year-old is bidding to become the first player since Seve Ballesteros to win the event in back-to-back years, with the Spaniard having triumphed in 1977 and 1978.

"He [Ballesteros] is a good man to emulate, so hopefully things go to plan [on Sunday]," Fitzpatrick - who missed out on a captain's pick for the Ryder Cup at the end of the month - told the European Tour's website.

"You still want to put the pressure on and make birdies. You are going to have to because someone is going to come up from somewhere, there is no doubt because you can get it going. Hopefully, I'll stick to my game plan and make plenty of birdies."

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A five-man group sit in a share of third place, Daniel Brooks, Lucas Bjerregaard and Doug Ghim joined by Haydn Porteous and Wu Ashun on 10-under.

Malaysian Gavin Green matched Fitzpatrick's efforts by signing for a 63, putting him at nine-under alongside Thomas Aiken of South Africa.

Overnight leader Hideto Tanihara slipped off the pace following a poor finish to his round at Crans-sur-Sierre Golf Club, however, with bogeys at 16 and 18 leaving him on eight-under.