American Beth Allen birdied the 18th to edge local heroine Azahara Muñoz from Spain by one stroke heading into the final round of the Andalucía Costa del Sol Open de España Femenino, setting up a fascinating final round duel between two of the Ladies European Tour’s top players.

Allen made seven birdies and two bogeys in a sparkling third round of 67 to reach nine-under-par on a hot and breezy day at the gorgeous but demanding Aloha Golf Club in Marbella.

Muñoz, who led by one stroke at halfway, is in solo second after a bogey-free round of 70 but Italian Diana Luna and Englishwoman Sophie Walker are up to joint third on four-under after rounds of 69 and 71 respectively.

Last year’s ISPS HANDA Ladies European Masters champion, Allen is fighting her way back to the top of the LET Order of Merit after losing her place to Shanshan Feng at last week’s Evian Championship.

She began the third round a stroke behind Munoz but was three back after eight holes. The 34-year-old from San Diego, who now resides in Scotland, sprang into action with three straight birdies from the ninth and picked up three more shots at 14, 15 and 18 for a remarkable back nine of 31. Allen caught Muñoz after 14 holes and both players birdied 15.

Results third round