Michael Hoey is still hanging on as he heads into the final round of the Ras Al Khaimah Challenge Tour Grand Final.
Hoey, who needs a massive finish to break into the top-15 in the Order of Merit and avoid heading to European Tour Q-School gave it his best effort again today. His 68, his best round of the week so far, included six birdies and just two dropped shots and sees him placed in 18th on the tournament leaderboard, 10 shots adrift of overall leader Adri Arnaus but still some way off his overall target.
For his part, Arnaus navigated windy conditions on his way to a five under par 67 and will take a three-stroke lead into the final round . The Spaniard co-led through the first two rounds but made six birdies and only one bogey to equal the low round of the day and put some daylight between himself and the rest of the field.
During a consistent campaign the 24 year old has notched 14 top-20 finishes and missed only three cuts in his maiden season on the European Challenge Tour and ranked #9 on The Road to Ras Al Khaimah he will look to cap it off in style, by sealing a European Tour card with his first win on Europe’s top developmental tour.
“I am enjoying the week and everything has been working well. It would be very special for me to win this tournament, overall it has been a great and fun year and to end it with a victory would be awesome,” said Arnaus
“It’s important that I get a good result as I want to finish as high as I can in the Road to Ras Al Khaimah Rankings. That could be the difference in getting into more European Tour events next season. There are 18 more holes to play and at the end of the day we will see what happens.”
With only one round remaining in the 28th and final event of the season, the battle to finish inside the top 15, and secure a life-changing promotion to the European Tour, has reached a fever pitch.
Romain Langasque, who graduated from the Challenge Tour in 2016, currently sits in a four-way tie for second place on 11 under par and if he is able to maintain or better that position at the end of the Grand Final, he would bump out England’s Tom Murray and earn the final spot in the top 15.
Dutchman Daan Huizing, also in a tie for second, came into the Ras Al Khaimah Challenge Tour Grand Final positioned 38th in the Rankings, needing a win to graduate. If the 28 year old is able to eclipse Arnaus tomorrow, he would secure his third Challenge Tour title and earn a shot at redemption on the European Tour after he failed to keep his card in 2014 — his only full season on Europe’s top tier.
Sean Crocker came into the week as Road to Ras Al Khaimah Number 13, but after 12 holes today, when he was two over par, things seemed to be spiralling out of control for the American.
Four birdies on the final six holes proved to be the perfect remedy for the 22 year old, who is now projected to finish ninth in the Rankings should he hold his current position – tied second.
France’s Victor Perez rounds out the quartet sharing second place, and a second consecutive Challenge Tour win would see the Foshan Open champion top the season-long points race.
David Law, currently projected finish in 14th place in the Rankings, faces added pressure after cracking his driver during a practice session following his second round.
The Scot put a replacement driver in his bag today, which he quickly benched after a horrific six over par through six-hole start, and after changing to his three wood he would go on to salvage his round with four consecutive birdies on the back nine to claw his way back into the mix.
Scores after Round Three:
202 A Arnaus (Esp) 66 69 67,
205 R Langasque (Fra) 67 69 69, V Perez (Fra) 67 69 69, D Huizing (Ned) 70 67 68, S Crocker (USA) 71 64 70,
206 J Hansen (Den) 72 67 67,
207 J Lima (Por) 70 66 71,
208 J Senior (Eng) 71 70 67,
209 N Lemke (Swe) 66 74 69, J Girrbach (Sui) 74 66 69, R Macintyre (Sco) 71 66 72, L Johnston (Sco) 69 70 70,
210 M Kim (Kor) 69 73 68, C Hill (Sco) 70 72 68,
211 D Van Driel (Ned) 71 67 73, S Soderberg (Swe) 69 74 68, K Koivu (Fin) 68 74 69,
212 M Hoey (Nir) 75 69 68, L Gagli (Ita) 71 67 74, A Karlsson (Swe) 72 72 68, G Forrest (Sco) 71 70 71, J Singh Brar (Eng) 72 70 70,
213 D Law (Sco) 69 69 75, M Iten (Sui) 70 72 71, T Murray (Eng) 67 72 74,
214 P Figueiredo (Por) 71 71 72, K Samooja (Fin) 71 72 71, O Lengden (Swe) 73 69 72,
215 O Wilson (Eng) 72 71 72, M Orrin (Eng) 72 76 67, A Rozner (Fra) 71 71 73, E Johansen (Nor) 73 71 71,
216 M Schneider (Ger) 70 73 73, B Virto (Esp) 69 75 72,
217 S Tiley (Eng) 73 72 72,
218 B Stow (Eng) 76 69 73, E Ferguson (Sco) 70 73 75, S Forsström (Swe) 70 72 76, K Johannessen (Nor) 72 75 71,
219 H Leon (Chi) 74 69 76, R McGowan (Eng) 74 73 72,
220 S Manley (Wal) 73 73 74, P Mejow (Ger) 69 73 78,
221 N Geyger (Chi) 76 69 76,
** D Papadatos (Aus) DQ 0 0,