Despite carding a second successive one-under par round of 71, Cormac Sharvin lost further ground on the leaderboard on moving day at the Foshan Open.
The Ardglass professional signed off on a round that included three birdies and two bogeys for a six-under par 54-hole tournament total that’s only good enough for a share of 46th place.
The 27-year old finds himself trailing 10 shots behind the leaders with one round to go in China, the penultimate event on the Challenge Tour calendar before the November 7th starting Grand Final brings the curtain down on the campaign in Mallorca, with Sharvin already assured of his European Tour card for next year.
Bai Zheng-kai and Ricardo Santos share the lead on 16 under par following a low-scoring day where China’s Bai posted a six under par round of 66 while Santos required one shot more to reach the 54-hole total of 16 under par, one stroke clear of overnight leader Alexander Knappe, who added a one under par round of 71 to his opening rounds of 65-65.
Santos, the 2019 Swiss Challenge Presented by Swiss Golf Champion, carded his second successive bogey-free round and only missed one green all day as he climbed to the top of the leaderboard.
“I played really solid with no mistakes,” he said. “It was another bogey-free round so it means I played really solid tee to green. I didn’t start very well – I missed the first green but from then on, I played well until the end. I’m really happy with my game and I just need to keep it like that.
“It felt a bit tougher out there today than yesterday. A few of the pins were a bit tricky as well, so I think it was tougher. It was windier than yesterday so it made it more of a challenge.”
With 72,059 Road to Mallorca Rankings points on offer for the winner, Santos is aiming to finish as high as possible to garner more starts on the European Tour next year.
“This is a big event, the biggest of the year,” he said. “If I have a good week here, it will put me higher on the Rankings and that’s my goal for the season, to get more entries for next season on the European Tour.”
Bai, meanwhile, followed his second round course record of 63 with a 66 on day three and finished strongly, with a five under par back nine topped off with a birdie at the last.
“Despite the bogey on the first, I kept myself calm to stay competitive and I wasn’t affected by a bad start,” he said. “I had to rely on my consistent putting to save lots of pars on the front nine, which gave me a base for the back nine.
“On my back nine, I kept giving myself opportunities and I managed to grab five birdies which put me in the leading position.”
The leaderboard is tightly congested heading into the final day, with 13 players within five shots of the leading duo.
Dou Zecheng, who posted an eight under par round of 64 to move into contention, Calum Hill and Ben Stow share fourth place on 14 under par, while Richard Bland, Adrian Meronk and Aron Zemmer are a shot further back on 13 under.
Full scoring HERE