Dermot McElroy fired a second successive 70 to move inside the top-10 ahead of the final round of the EuroPro Tour Championship.
The Ballymena professional maintained his status as leading Irishman on the week and trails the top of the leaderboard by five shots with 18 holes to play.
Looking to stake his claim to a chunk of the bumper £100,000 prize purse on offer in Spain this week, McElroy posted five birdies in a two-under par effort that saw him rise to a tie for 10th at four-under par.
Even for the Northern Irishman, who’s banked just over £3,500 from 13 events played this year, the consequences of a big week at Desert Springs could prove game changing.
A winner’s cheque this week of £22,540 means opportunity knocks for a bolter from the pack to make a leap of fate on this year’s Order of Merit with the top-5 at the close of play on Friday earning Challenge Tour promotion.
Currently fifth on the ladder having earned £20,456.76 from 14 events played this year is Clandeboye’s Jonathan Caldwell who’s struggled to get anything going over the first two days.
Caldwell carded a second consecutive even par round of 72 and could really do with a low one on Friday to ensure he’s not pipped to the post at the death in Almeria. As things stand, the Ulsterman will drop to seventh place, just £250 short of a Challenge Tour card.
While Caldwell is labouring and vulnerable at level par, Royal Dublin’s Niall Kearney made a significant leap on Thursday. Kearney found form in a four-under par 68 and moved to a tie for 15th at minus-three as he looks to make a last-ditch attempt to salvage a frustrating season.
Whitehead’s John Ross Galbraith could only add an even par effort on day two to remain at one-over par, the same two-day total as Limerick’s Tim Rice who enjoyed an improved one-under par 71 showing on Thursday.
James Allan will take a one shot lead heading into the final round of PGA EuroPro Tour Championships 2019 at Desert Springs Resort after a solid second day.
Victory for Allan (Chelmsford Golf Club) will see him climb to the top of the Race to Desert Springs rankings to clinch a Challenge Tour card and the PGA EuroPro Tour 2019 title.
He was three back from overnight leader Mikael Lundberg at the start of play but made light work of the course in windy conditions signing for 68 (-4) and -9 overall.
Allan explained: “I got away with a couple of tee shots into the desert but I recovered well, my putting was very good today! It was tricky as the wind was swirling around a fair amount so had to be committed to lines/yardages which I did well!”
As it stands it’ll be Allan, Richard Mansell, Marco Penge, Alfie Plant and Andrew Wilson who take the top five but that is, of course, subject to change based on the final day of play and European Tour Q School final stages.
Ben Ferguson (The Vines) followed on from his 67 yesterday with a 69 (-3) to be second outright with five birdies to his name and it could’ve been better if it wasn’t for a double bogey on the back nine.
The best round of the day came from Oliver Clarke. The White Rose Management golfer shot 64 (-7) to move up from level to tied for third with Luke Joy (Remedy Oak/Yas Links Abu Dhabi) who has put together rounds of 68 and 69 so far this week.
Clarke speaking to John E. Morgan after the round said: “The putter was the difference. Yesterday I played solid didn’t miss many fairways or greens but wasn’t holing many points. I was five-under front nine (today). The front nine there wasn’t much wind but on the back nine, there was.”
Overnight leader Mikael Lundberg (Lumine Golf Club) shot 73 (+1) to move back with Joy and Clarke.
Highlights from Tour Championships 2019 will air on Sky Sports Golf on November, 12 at 20:00 and networks worldwide including DAZN from the same date.
Full scoring HERE