Hend heads the leaderboard with Noren not far behind


One stroke separates European Masters leader Scott Hend from Alex Noren, with Richard Bland three shots further back in third after Saturday's penultimate round.

Hend, searching for his second win of the European Tour season following his victory at the Thailand Classic in March, shot a five-under 65 - spoiled only by a bogey at the last to end the day 13 under.

His playing partner and 2009 champion Noren shot 66, including birdies on three of the last five holes to close to within one of the lead at the picturesque Crans-sur-Sierre Golf Club in Switzerland.

Behind that pair Bland sits on 10 under, the Englishman who was one of three joint overnight leaders having to settle for a round of 69.

Meanwhile a group of four - Mikko Ilonen, Alejandro Canizares, Andrew Johnston and Romain Langasque - are tied for fourth at nine under.

Four birdies on the front nine, including three in succession between the sixth and eighth, got Hend off to a strong start and the Australian made two more gains on 10 and 15 before a miss to the right of the cup on the last halved his lead.

A bogey at the 10th had Noren one under for the day but he picked up three birdies at 14, 15 and 17 - the latter a monster from around 45 feet.

The Swede also enjoyed some fortune at the last as his approach clipped the branches of a tree, before landing close to the water hazard and hopping over onto the green, where he was able to make par.

Meanwhile, defending champion and Masters winner Danny Willett struggled for consistency, shooting five birdies and as many bogeys to sit well out of contention on three under.