Cormac Sharvin recovered from a double-bogey at the par-5 second to ensure he goes into the final round of the Stone Irish Challenge just three shots back of the lead at Headfort.
The Ardglass professional showed all the composure of a guy looking assured of his Main Tour future, demonstrating bounce-back-ability to birdie the third before a run of pars brought him to the turn in one-over.
It was on the back-nine that the 27-year old would exact his revenge on the par-5s, eagling the 14th before taking advantage of 16 in ‘4’ in a rousing finish that saw Sharvin sign for a two-under 70 – his eight-under total well within reach of the leaders at minus-11.
Sharing fifth spot on the leaderboard ahead of the final day, Sharvin’s projected to rise from 8th to 5th on the Road to Mallorca standings if he was to see-out a top-5 finish on Sunday, but given his most-consistent campaign to date is only shy of a maiden victory, he’ll undoubtedly have his sights set on more.
Gavin Moynihan’s not without hope either although his moving day wobble in posting a one-over par 73 saw him drop to six-under par and into a share of 10th.
A run of three bogeys in four holes from 7-10 hampered the Mount Juliet pro’s ambitions but the European Tour regular is capable of limiting the mistakes having gone bogey-free in a round of 67 on Friday, a score he’ll need to better if he’s to have any chance in Kells.
Meanwhile, Whitehead’s John Ross Galbraith outscored his more experienced peers in posting a three-under par 69 to move up seven places on the board to five-under par with the Christy O’Connor Memorial Trophy still very much in his sights for the leading Irishman this week in Meath.
Both David Carey and Jonathan Caldwell enjoyed positive moving day jumps also as they carded two-under par 70’s to get to two-under on the week, joining Naas pro Jonathan Yates whose even par effort saw him drop to a share of 26th ahead of the final day.
Michael Hoey remained at a level par tournament total after signing for a 72 with Tullamore’s Stuart Grehan a shot further back after getting into the red on the day with a 71.
Naas pro Conor O’Rourke dropped to two-over par after a disappointing 76 while Ballymena’s Dermot McElroy’s 74 on Saturday for a plus-four tally completed the Irish scoring.
Oscar Lengden is in a familiar position at the top of the leaderboard as he and Emilio Cuartero Blanco will take a share of the lead into the final round.
The Swede carded his third consecutive sub-70 round on the difficult Headfort New layout to stand on 11 under par with only 18 holes to go.
“My goal this tournament is to get four rounds below 70, so if I can do that, then I’ve put myself in a good spot and I’ll be happy for this week,” he said.
The 27-year-old continues his love affair with golf in Ireland after he finished second at the Irish Challenge in his last appearance in the event in 2017.
“Apparently my mind and my game really like Ireland because I always play well here,” he said. “Tomorrow is going to be an experience to put in the book, but I’m glad to take on that challenge.”
With the Road to Mallorca reaching the business end of the year, the rise to the top of the leaderboard is not out of the ordinary for the two-time Challenge Tour winner. Each of the last two seasons, Lengden has made late moves up the Rankings.
In 2017, he won the Bridgestone Challenge and then backed it up the next week with that second place finish in the Irish Challenge, while last year, he posted a clutch tied-seventh performance in the penultimate event of the year.
“It’s funny, I don’t have any answer to that at all but somehow it always works out I play well at the end of the season,” he said.
Both campaigns ended with Lengden narrowly missing out on his European Tour card as he finished 23rd on the Rankings, but without a win this year, his late-season push has been vital to him securing his Challenge Tour playing rights for 2020.
“Honestly I’m just happy to be in this position. A couple weeks ago I wasn’t really sure if I was going to finish inside the top 70 and keep my Challenge Tour card so everything is a bonus. I have no pressure really, and as long as I play like I did today I’ll be fine.”
Cuartero Blanco is also happy to find himself playing well at this time of the season. The Spaniard came into the event 100th on the Road to Mallorca, but has looked in control all week as he has held either the outright lead or a share of the lead after each of the first three rounds.
A win tomorrow would put him into the limited-field Hainan Open, which would give him an opportunity to continue the push for a European Tour card with only three events remaining.
The big mover on day three was Englishman Todd Clements, who matched the low round of the week by carding a five under par 67 to move into third place on ten under par, just one shot behind the leaders.
Full scoring HERE