Ireland’s Peter Lawrie is poised to complete a superb season with his maiden Challenge Tour victory in the Grand Final in Bordeaux. He goes into tomorrow’s final day leading on six under par 207 after a flawless third round 69.
It leaves him a stroke ahead of Massimo Florioli from Italy, who shot 68, and England's Simon Wakefield with 69.
On contrast to the two previous days, conditions were ideal with non-stop sunshine and a light breeze. It suited Lawrie, who teed off two behind. But while his rivals were struggling on the greens, the young Dubliner was reeling off par after par with monotonous regularity.
He ran in two birdies, his first coming from four feet at the 356-yard seventh to see him reach the turn in 34, and he added another at the long tenth with two putts from around 20 feet.
He was fortunate at the short eighth and par four 11th not to find the water, but he saved par on both occasions.
Having already secured his European Tour card for next season, a victory and the top prize of 34,260 Euro would put the icing on the cake.
"I played nicely," he said modestly. "It got a bit monotonous hitting the fairway, the green and two putting, but I'll take the same tomorrow. I've never led on the Challenge Tour before so it will be a new experience."
Florioli, who needs to finish in the top five to stand a chance of finishing ranked in the top 15, had five birdies in his 68 and is feeling the pressure. “I have to play well again tomorrow but we shall have to wait and see,” he said.
Wakefield, another who will be playing on the main tour next season, opened with a bogey five but that was his only blemish. He followed up with three birdies and said: "I'll settle for anything around par or better tomorrow."
It wasn’t a good day for the overnight leaders, all of whom failed to better par. Gustavo Rojas of Argentina, who went out a shot clear, opened with a birdie but couldn’t consolidate his position and eventually signed for 73 and 209. “I played poorly,” he said. “I missed a lot of shots and my putting was not good.”
England's David Dixon, one behind Rojas at the start, went round in 72 to slip back with his rival and Frenchman Julien Van Hauwe on 209, and was not happy with his putting.
"I didn't hit it close enough and gave myself too much to do on the greens," he said. "I suppose you have to have one poor round but I've got to shoot low tomorrow. I've got to win to secure a card so it's a case of hit or bust."
Van Hauwe’s recent fine form deserted him as he also returned 72. “It was disappointing,” he said. “I had no success with my putting but the greens are not very smooth. The course is very wet and it is not easy to get any run on the ball. But I am happy to attack from behind tomorrow.”
Several players got within a stroke or two of the lead only to slip back over the homeward stretch. South Africa’s Titch Moore went out in 30 with three birdies and an eagle-two at the ninth when he holed his eight iron approach from around 170 yards.
But four bogeys in a back nine of 39 saw him sign for 69 to slip back to joint 12th. “I shot myself in the foot on the back nine,” he said, “so I’ve got to go out tomorrow with all guns blazing.”
England’s Denny Lucas and Mark Sanders also put in bids for the lead only to falter. Lucas opened with two birdies to get to four under, but a double bogey followed by five bogeys saw him sign for 76.
Similarly, Sanders chipped-in at the first two holes for a birdie and an eagle and added a further birdie at the ninth to be out in 31. But he couldn’t improve on par coming home but he still managed to finish with 67 and joint eighth on 211.
The low round of the day was returned by Lee James with a six-birdie 66, which almost certainly confirms he will finish top of the ranking.