Michael Hoey improved his position by one place on moving day as he looks to give his European Tour hopes a boost at the Kazakhstan Open presented by ERG.
Gavin Moynihan / Image from Getty Images
The Northern Irishman, who currently lies in 27th spot on the Road to Ras Al Khaimah standings as he looks to break into the top-15 who will earn their main tour privileges next season, fired five birdies on his way to a four-under-par round of 68 on Saturday.
That return sees him move into solo 8th on 14-under-par heading into the final round, although he remains six back of the lead.
Gavin Moynihan was the big mover from an Irish perspective though. The Dubliner holed out for an incredible albatross two at the par-5 sixth hole on his way to a seven-under-par 65 as he leapt 25 places up the leaderboard into a share of 11th on 12-under.
Clandeboye’s Jonathan Caldwell is next best of the Irish on 9-under after posting a stellar three-under-par round of 69 to move up two places into a tie for 26th.
While when all those around him were making birdies, Ardglass’ Cormac Sharvin slumped to a one-over-par 73 to drop into a share of 54th spot.
Sean Crocker shot 10-under-par 62 to set a new course record at Zhailjau Golf Resort and will take a one-shot lead into the final round.
The American did not drop a shot and made ten birdies on Moving Day to jump to 20 under through three rounds at the lucrative European Challenge Tour event.
“I played really well, I hit a lot of good shots and made a lot of good putts,” he said. “It was probably one of the best rounds I’ve played in some time, if not, ever.
“It was a lot of fun. I want to say it was stress-free, but it is kind of stressful when you’re playing so well and you want to keep the momentum going.”
After turning in 31 and birdieing five of his first six holes on the back nine, the 22 year old began to have thoughts about golf’s magic number.
“On hole 15, I thought about shooting 59,” he said. “But then on 16 and 17 they had some tough pins and they were tough holes, so it was in my mind but then went out of it really quickly.”
Playing in only his seventh Challenge Tour event, Crocker has already shown flashes of brilliance. Following a made-cut at The 147th Open Championship, he travelled to Austria the very next week and lead the Euram Bank Open through the first and second rounds before finishing in a tie for third place.
Now, the Florida resident will have a golden opportunity to get the job done and take home the €72,000 winner’s cheque, which would immediately move him into the coveted top 15 on the Road to Ras Al Khaimah — a fact he prefers not to think about.
“I’m just going to come out tomorrow and try to do the same things,” he said. “Nothing different really, just play some golf.”
Playing with Crocker in the final round will be Liam Johnston, who has proven he knows how to win head-to-head battles after triumphing at the Andalucia – Costa del Sol Match Play 9 earlier this year for his first-career Challenge Tour victory. The Scot carded an impressive 64 on Day Three and sits on 19 under par for the tournament.
A duo of 2018 Challenge Tour winners from England will form the penultimate pairing, including last week’s Bridgestone Challenge winner, Tom Lewis, who is two back on 18 under par and looking to win his second-consecutive event. Prague Golf Challenge winner Ben Stow sits three back on 17-under-par.
When the winner of the Kazakhstan Open presented by ERG is crowned tomorrow, it could set off a potentially massive shift on the Road to Ras Al Khaimah. None of the players currently inside the top 10 hold one of the first 15 positions on the season-long Rankings, which means that the list of players projected to graduate onto the European Tour might look very different by the week’s end.