Cormac Sharvin and Dermot McElroy had mixed fortunes on moving day at the Challenge Tour’s Open de Bretagne, and it’s the Ardglass man who’s best placed heading into the final round.
McElroy had tied Sharvin at -3 at the end of play on Friday, but the Ballymena man still had six holes to play in round two and he’d birdie the sixth and ninth to get to -5, just five off the lead.
Round three was a different story, however, and three bogeys and a double on the opening nine put paid to any realistic chances of capturing a first Challenge Tour victory. Two birdies on the back side were offset by two more double bogeys and he’d sign for a seven-over 77 to drop to a tie for 31st.
Sharvin’s third round, though five strokes better, told a similar tale. A double at the first was followed by another bogey at three, and he’d trade three birdies and two bogeys on the remainder of the front nine.
Three birdies on the back matched his three on the front, but a triple bogey at 14 cancelled those out and he’d reach the clubhouse at -1 after a two-over 72. Tied for 19th, a top-10 finish is not out of the equation and after a difficult period, would signal major improvements nonetheless.
Benjamin Follett-Smith and Stuart Manley share the lead ahead of final round. The duo, who carded rounds of 71 and 67 respectively, will start the final day with a one shot lead at the 16th edition of the event held at Golf Bluegreen de Pléneuf Val André.
Both players finished their second rounds on Saturday morning with Manley signing for an eight under par 62 to take the 36-hole lead. However, he struggled to continue his form later in the day as he carded a level par front nine.
Meanwhile, Follett-Smith, who won the first event on the 2023 Road to Mallorca at the Bain’s Whisky Cape Town Open, had a strong opening nine holes. The Zimbabwean birdied the first hole before making four gains around the turn starting at the seventh hole to take the outright lead.
The back nine was a different story with both players dropping shots as the wind picked up. However, it was Manley who made a birdie at 18 to join the lead with Follett-Smith, who is looking to claim his second win of the season.
“Last time I won I didn’t get much going for the following weeks of the season, so it’s nice to be back in contention,” he said.
“I’m extremely pleased with my play today. I was flying on the front nine and using the confidence to my advantage, giving myself chancing on those holes. I went into the back nine trying to hit shots, but it just didn’t happen but not everything always goes your way, but the front nine definitely did, which was very pleasing.
“You have to play every hole to its own. Each nine is like a different side of a coin. You have to visualise your shots and accept that it’s tough and the wind is blowing hard. You have to commit to your shots and if it comes off, then it comes off, if it doesn’t then it doesn’t.”