Ballymena’s Dermot McElroy looks on course for another impressive Challenge Tour finish as he enters the final round of the Big Green Egg German Challenge just outside the top-10.
The 29-year-old carded five birdies and three bogeys for a second consecutive round of 70 at Wittelsbacher Golfclub in Neuburg an der Donau to reach five-under-par, good for a share of 16th place.
McElroy, who is already all but guaranteed his Challenge Tour card for next season after winning on the PGA EuroPro Tour last week, can take another step towards potentially skipping the second tier next season if he could work his way up the leaderboard on Sunday.
He has some work to do if he is to catch leader Alejandro del Rey, though, the Spaniard notching a four-under 68 in his second round to distinguish himself at 14-under-par, one shot clear of Mateusz Gradecki and Manuel Elvira.
The trio started the day tied for the lead, but Del Rey found one more birdie to sit top on his own heading into the final round and he is eager to convert that into a win after his strong recent form.
“It was pretty tough today and I couldn’t attack the course as much as I did during the first two rounds,” he said. “It’s great to finish with an eagle and I’m happy with my score.
“I’ve been looking forward to this moment all season. I’ve been playing well, and I love to be in contention because I feel like that’s when I play my best golf. I’m very competitive and I’m going to do everything I can to win tomorrow.”
It looks like it will be a three-way race for the title, with Gradecki and Elvira’s 69s leaving them 13-under-par, three clear of fourth-placed Robin Sciot-Siegrist.
It could also be a big day for Tom McKibbin and Ruaidhri McGee, who start the final round four-under and three-under respectively, as they look to further their DP World Tour promotion bids in Germany.
The pair need to finish in the top-20 on the Road to Mallorca standings to go up a tier next year, with McKibbin (28th) carding just two birdies and two bogeys in a level-par 72 on Saturday and McGee (26th) three birdies and three bogeys in his own 72.
Meanwhile, it was a day to forget for John Murphy, who started the round three shots off the lead but would end it 14 back as a seven-over 79 dropped him back to level-par for the tournament and a share of 56th after a double-bogey, eight bogeys and three birdies.