Marco Penge will take a single shot lead into the final round of the Rolex Challenge Tour Grand Final supported by The R&A after shooting a level par 72 on Saturday.
The 25-year-old once again battled testing conditions with winds gusting up to 35 miles an hour. Struggling on his front nine, dropped shots on 8 and 11 put him back to five under par.
He immediately responded with back-to-back birdies on the par four 12th and par five 13th, after impressively reaching the green in two blows.
“I played a steady round of golf and I’m happy with how it went. I felt like I was playing well on the front nine and I hit a couple of wedges close and gave myself a few birdie chances early on.
“I struggled to hole anything and then made a bad bogey on 11 but fortunately followed it up with back-to-back birdies on 12 and 13. It was a battle all day and I’m in a good place heading into the final round.
“This is a fantastic venue, and the course is tough enough without the weather conditions we have had this week. It’s a real mental battle out there but I’m looking forward to taking on the challenge again tomorrow.”
Vaillant one back
Penge’s playing partner and overnight leader Tom Vaillant had a similar story over his opening holes, a double bogey six on his third hole and a further dropped shot on the 12th saw him slip down the leaderboard.
The Frenchman responded well with birdies at 15 and 18 to move to six under par and within one shot of Penge.
The third member in the trio, Frederic Lacroix, also struggled. A two over 74 has him in solo third spot four shots back from his countryman.
In a day of only nine members of the field breaking par, England’s Brandon Robinson Thompson was one of those with a one under par 71 and sits in fourth spot. His countryman Sam Bairstow is just a single shot back in fifth after he posted a two under 70, the joint lowest round of the day.
Abu Dhabi Challenge Champion Ricardo Gouveia is in a tie for 20th and Max Routtluff, UAE Challenge Champion, in a tie for 26th spot.
The top 21 players on the Road to Mallorca Rankings at the conclusion of the Rolex Challenge Tour Grand Final will earn DP World Tour playing privileges for 2024.
As things stand, Penge would jump from 24th to 1st in the Road to Mallorca Rankings, Vaillant moves from 33rd to 12th, Lacroix from 25th to 13th, Bairstow would secure 19th and Robinson Thompson 20th. While Stuart Manley, Jamie Rutherford, Euan Walker and Ashley Chesters would become the unfortunate players to miss out on promotion.
With the winds looking to subside tomorrow, the final group will get underway at 11:30am local time.