GIVEN the venue is called Close House, it is perhaps not surprising that things are fairly tight at the top in the British Masters.

Sweden’s Robert Karlsson, the former European No 1, leads on 12-under but on a strong leaderboard, featuring Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter, the top-11 are separated by just two strokes.

In Hadrian’s Wall country, there is an invading Scot making menacing advances as Richie Ramsay bolstered his assault on the title with a five-under 65 to sit just a shot off the pace on 11-under heading into the final round.

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Those rooting for an English winner on English soil may be tempted to fling a few more bricks on to old Hadrian’s dyke in an effort to stop the Aberdonian.

In an event that has been revived in the last couple of years, having dropped off the schedule in 2009, the 34-year-old is aiming to become the first Scot to win the British Masters since Gary Orr in 2000.

Along with the likes of Colin Montgomerie, Sam Torrance, Sandy Lyle and Bernard Gallacher, the tourn-ament’s roll of honour boasts a number of decorated Scotsmen and Ramsay has given himself a chance of joining those celebrated compatriots.

“I’m in the mix and that’s where you want to be with a round to go,” said Ramsay.

With soft, receptive greens and hardly any wind, Close House’s defences were vulnerable to ambush. Sweden’s David Lingmerth showed what could be achieved with a 62 early on which saw him barge up into contention. Ramsay, meanwhile, produced some eye-catching stuff of his own.

On the risk-and-reward ninth, his cracking 3-wood from the tee landed some 25-feet from the pin and he trundled in the putt for an eagle-two to fortify his push.

“It’s good hole there because there is the chance of a two but you can easily take a lot more if you get it wrong,” said Ramsay, who has found Close House very much to his liking.

“I knew as soon as I got here that this course suited me. You need pos-ition off the tee and it’s a good second shot course so it’s playing to my strengths.”

Karlsson, aiming for his first tour win since 2010, inched ahead with a 67 while Poulter’s 68 left him in a four-way tie for second. He was left seething, though, after being distracted on the fifth tee by spect-ators using camera phones.

“Seriously, what are we doing?” Poulter fumed. “We’ve allowed them all to take pictures and videos and we tell them to put them on silent and it doesn’t work. It’s really f***ing annoying.”

McIlroy may be winding down but he leaped up to within two shots of the lead with a robust 64 which was his lowest round since June, when he had a similar score in the final round of the Travelers Championship on the PGA Tour.

With just this week’s Dunhill Links Championship in his diary before he retreats from the frontline for a three-month period, the 28-year-old doesn’t have many opportunities left to make sure his season doesn’t end winless for the first time since 2008.

“It’s nice to be up there again,” he said.

Lee Westwood, the tournament host dropped back to nine-under with a 70 while Glasgow’s Marc Warren, fresh from a runners-up finish in Portugal last weekend, birdied three of his first four holes en route to a 65 as he finished in a share of 16th on an eight-under aggregate of 202.