The Irishman entered the day with a share of the lead and produced nine birdies on his way to a 13 under total in the Spanish capital, and is now in an excellent position to challenge for a second European Tour title after last season’s victory at the British Masters supported by Sky Sports.
Home favourite Nacho Elvira, six-time European Tour winner Brett Rumford and England’s Callum Shinkwin form the chasing pack at ten under, just one shot clear of World Number Four Jon Rahm, two-time winner Robert Rock, three-time winner Marc Warren and Swede Henric Sturehed.
Local hero Rahm started with an eagle and looked to be on the charge with birdies on the fifth and 11th but he found water with his second on the 12th and surrendered a double-bogey. He bounced straight back with a birdie and picked up another shot on the last after hitting the pin.
Co-overnight leader Warren signed for a 69, turning in 37 but picking up shots on the first, fourth, fifth and seventh. Meanwhile, defending champion Andrew Johnston, German Maximilian Kieffer, Spaniard Pablo Larrazábal, Frenchman Julien Guerrier and Danes Thorbjørn Olesen and Jeff Winther were at eight under.
England’s Andy Sullivan and German Marcel Schneider fired the lowest rounds of the week, carding a pair of 63s to get to six under and five under respectively.