MADEIRA, Portugal -- Michael Hoey shot a five-under 67 on Saturday and shares the lead with Jamie Elson after three rounds of the Madeira Islands Open.
Elson recorded a four-under 68, and both players sit at nine-under 207 for the tournament. Hoey had six birdies and a bogey at Porto Santo Golfe Club, while Elson posted an eagle, five birdies and three bogeys.
"Thrilled to bits," Elson said. "It's my second straight round of four-under, and in these conditions I'm extremely pleased."
Hoey is chasing his second European Tour victory, having won the 2009 Open de Portugal, while Elson is after his first win on tour.
Chris Gane (70), Alastair Forsyth (69) and Francois Delamontagne (71) share third at seven-under 209, while Ricardo Santos (66) is sixth at minus-five.
Second-round leader Simon Thornton struggled all afternoon, making just one birdie to go with four bogeys and a double-bogey. With a round of five-over 77, he fell to a share of 13th at two-under.
With Thornton out of the picture, Hoey and Elson took advantage of the opportunity.
Hoey got to five-under with his first birdie of the day at No. 3, and he moved to minus-seven with birdies at the seventh and eighth.
On the back nine, Hoey started off as well as possible with back-to-back birdies at the 10th and 11th. He took sole possession of the lead at 10-under with a birdie at the 14th, but fell back into a share of the lead with a bogey at 16.
Elson, on the other hand, had a more colorful round. He got to six-under with a birdie at the third, but bogeyed both the fourth and sixth.
After a par at the seventh, Elson eagled the par-five eighth and followed with a birdie at the ninth to get to seven-under. He moved to minus-eight with a birdie at the 12th, but immediately dropped the stroke with a bogey at the 13th.
Elson moved into a share of the lead with Hoey, though, with birdies at the 15th and 16th. He parred the final two holes to set up a Sunday pairing with the two leaders.
"My game plan seemed to be working quite well, and I putted really nicely today, so overall I'm very pleased," Elson said. "In a final round it's all about getting off to a steady start. Just keep it in play, make the right decisions and hopefully don't go too far wrong."
Thornton fell rather quickly, with bogeys at Nos. 6, 8 and 9 to precede his double-bogey at 10. The 10th hole score left him at three-under, and he never recovered.
NOTES: Santos' 66 was the best round of the day...Only 11 of the 73 players shot 69 or better on Saturday, although 31 shot under par.