A four-over 76 sees Niall Kearney’s chances of landing the D+D Real Czech Challenge disappear at Prague’s Panorama Golf Club.
The Dubliner would only make three pars during his rollercoaster third round, but six birdies were offset by four bogeys and the three-double bogeys would prove extremely costly.
Pavan produced a bogey-free seven-under-par 65 to seize control as he targets a first European Challenge Tour title in almost a decade. The Italian, a two-time winner on the DP World Tour, carded seven birdies in the low round of the day as he turned a three-shot overnight deficit into a three-shot lead.
Pavan last celebrated victory on the Challenge Tour at the Open de Bretagne in September 2013 and his nearest challenger is third-round leader Casey Jarvis, who sits second on the Road to Mallorca Rankings.
“I am very pleased,” said Pavan. “It was tricky out there. The greens were pretty quick, there were some tricky pins and there was a bit of breeze. I played pretty well. I had kind of a shaky start, but I saved a good par on the first and from then on I hit some good shots.
“I think I only missed three greens in regulation, hit some good mid-irons and wedges close made a few putts. That was nice. On this course you have to putt well and you have to be in control with your iron game because the targets are not very big.
“If you leave yourself 15-20 footers all day, they will be really hard to make because the breaks are quite steep on the greens. I had a lot of putts inside 12 feet and I definitely putted well so that was good.”
Pavan has played in all ten events on the Challenge Tour so far this season, registering two top tens, and claimed the most recent of his seven professional titles at the BMW International Open in 2019.
Playing in the final group of the day alongside Jarvis, who sits second on the Road to Mallorca Rankings, Pavan still trailed by three shots at the turn despite two birdies in his opening six holes as his South African playing partner made back-to-back birdies to close out his front nine.
But three consecutive birdies from the tenth, coupled with two bogeys in the same three-hole stretch, saw Pavan move two strokes clear, before he extended that to four with another gain at the par-three 15th.
Pavan added a final birdie of the day to reach 15 under, moments after Jarvis had earlier closed out with back-to-back birdies to card a one-under 71.
Asked about the opportunity to return to the winner’s circle, Pavan added: “That is the goal. At the beginning of the year, a win is a big part of getting your (DP World Tour) card back by finishing in the top 20.
“Everyone has that goal in mind at the beginning of the season. For me it was more about finding my game back. I have been working well for five to six months. I was playing pretty well coming in and this week I have just started to putt better. It would mean a lot but there is still a round to go and lot of good players. Hopefully I can get over the line tomorrow.”
Adam Blomme of Sweden will join Pavan and Jarvis in the final group on Sunday after a four-under 68 saw him climb to 11 under overall.
Jaco Prinsloo of South Africa sits in solo fourth on the leaderboard at ten under, with Spain’s David Borda and England’s Marco Penge a further shot back.
The final round will begin from two tees at 7:00am local time and Pavan teeing off from the first at 9:00am.