Conor Purcell heads into the final round of the Challenge de España just one shot off the lead as he goes in search of his first Challenge Tour win at Iberostar Real Club de Golf Novo Sancti Petri in Cadiz.
The 24-year-old carded a four-under 68 in his third round to move up to four-under-par for the tournament and into a share of second place, just one stroke behind leader Victor Pastor.
“It’s great, Im delighted with that today.” Purcell said after his round. “The first few days have been really windy and there were not many chances out there so today was nice”
Pastor signed for a five-under 67 on day three to move up to five-under-par and he holds the slimmest of advantages heading into the final round over Purcell and Sweden’s Jens Dantorp who share second.
It’s been a fine start to the season for Purcell, who has finished in the top-20 in five of his six starts so far and looks to be on track for his sixth in seven this weekend, however while this week he is playing on the Challenge Tour, his previous top-20s have been on the third-tier Alps Tour.
And after mastering the windy conditions in Cadiz on day two, he found scoring easier to come by in round three as the conditions eased, and he bounced back from an early bogey at the par-four third with five birdies in the rest of his round of 68 to move up to second.
“The wind dropped a lot today and I felt the course was more gettable, I feel like I know this course well enough now as I had two events on it last year too so I have played it in a lot of different winds which was a big help today”
“I plotted my way around well and took advantage when I needed to and hung onto my hat at times too, all in all a good day”
With only four drop shots on his card in the opening 54 holes, Purcell’s game has been rock solid in Spain this week.
“The course set up this week is pretty tough so you know you are going to miss a lot of greens but my short game has been the highlight of the week so far.” He admitted. “I have been chipping and putting really well all week and not making many mistakes. I had a nice chip in on 5 for birdie today too which helps too.”
The Portmarnock professional is all too aware of the opportunity tomorrow will bring after a Covid disrupted transition to the pro ranks.
“I can’t wait for it, the last few years have been stop, start through Covid with limited opportunities. This is my eighth event of the season so it’s nice to give myself an opportunity playing in the final group on Sunday and try get the juices flowing.”
“Everything is trending in the right direction and I’m happy with where my game is at, it’s just about going out and executing the shots tomorrow and seeing where it leaves me at the end of the day. I’m looking forward to it.”
Pastor, meanwhile, was one shot better as he recorded six birdies – with a crucial one coming at the 18th – and one bogey in a 67 that has the 27-year-old Spaniard in prime position as he also goes in search of his maiden Challenge Tour victory.
“It’s been an amazing round,” he said. “I think I played solid all day. I never really had a tough moment. I’ve been playing well all day, so it’s good.
“It was easier today, for sure. The wind was in the same direction so I just learned from yesterday in terms of lines, so yesterday was good for me because it was hard. You have to be pretty patient, I put it in my notebook and used that knowledge today.
Dantorp fired a bogey-free 67 to join Purcell in a share of second as he also moved up to four-under-par, with overnight leader Mikael Lindberg’s 71 leaving him tied for fourth alongside Germany’s Bernd Ritthammer at three-under-par.
Purcell is sharing a house this week with John Murphy and Paul Dunne and despite both missing the cut they have all stuck around before travelling to Scotland tomorrow night. Fingers crossed for an Irish celebration on the 18th green tomorrow.