Michael Jonzon and Kariem Baraka produced some stunning golf amidst the searing heat of the Alps to join Peter Gustafsson at the top of the leaderboard with a third round total of 17 under par 196, in the Kitzbühel Golf Alpin Open.
Jonzon fired a nine under 62 for the lowest round of the day, while Baraka had 65 to sit alongside Gustafsson on 17 under after the overnight leader found himself three over for the day after four holes.
The Swede recovered to shoot a 70, but it was his fellow countryman Jonzon who seized the initiative on the par 71 Kitzbühel Schwarszee course with a stunning round that included an eagle on the par four fourth where he holed from over 100 yards, eight birdies and one bogey.
Jonzon, 31, admitted he could have shot a magical 59 such was the high level of his performance.
“I played really well. There were points out there today when I felt like I could have threatened to shoot 59, and I did miss three other birdie chances as well as three putting on the eighth for bogey.
“My eagle at the fourth was a five iron off the tee and then I hit a gap wedge from about 95 metres that pitched past the pin and spun back into the hole – that felt great. The only disappointment of the day was three putting on eight because it was a makeable birdie putt that turned into a bogey.
“I’m going to have to shoot another really low round tomorrow if I want to win here because the standard on the Challenge Tour is really high these days.
“I think the top 40 guys on the Rankings could definitely make in on The European Tour. The courses we play on the Challenge Tour might not be the longest, but you still have to play well and make the putts like I did today.
“The cuts out here are so low that it’s good experience for life on The European Tour because it’s hard thing to get used to.”
German Baraka, meanwhile, found the water at the par three seventh and took a five before steadying the ship and adding a further five birdies to his tally to finish six under for the day.
He said: “I satisfied with my score overall. I feel really good just now because my iron play is really hot. I had a few tap in birdies today which is always good for your confidence.”
For Gustafsson, it was a day where mentality was the key after such a disappointing beginning to the round.
The 26 year old felt as though he had been in a psychological battle at the end of his game alongside David Geall – who also struggled to match his low scores of the first two days and finished with a 70.
“I just didn’t feel right from the start of the round,” said Gustafsson. “I hit a perfect drive on the second but made bogey. I bogeyed the third as well before putting it out of bounds at the fourth and ended up making what was a really good five.
“It’s very difficult on days like that because you have to remain calm and retain your patience, even though you can see on the leaderboard that everyone around you are making birdies all over the place.
“But I managed to stay calm and got there in the end. I holed a 35 foot putt for par on the last which made me feel a lot better. The way I see it is that’s my bad round out of the way and I can still win tomorrow.”
Englishman Geall, who admitted he “missed everthing out there today”, and African Michael Kirk are two off the pace in joint fourth place, while Scotsman Scott Drummond and another Swede, Peter Hanson, are a further shot behind on 14 under.
Meanwhile, the morning rounds saw the formation of a Danish/Italian appreciation society!
Peter Jespersen and Massimo Florioli were the third game to tee off in the early ties, and both took advantage of the perfect weather and majestic surroundings to shoot seven under par 64s.
“It was a perfect day for golf today,” said Florioli, “just a beautiful morning in a beautiful setting, and when you play like myself and Peter did it just makes it all worthwhile.
“My back nine was especially good this morning. I came back in 30 and was putting really well. It would be good to do that tomorrow.”
“Massimo and I had a great time out there,” Jespersen agreed. “You could say that we spurred each other on I suppose – it was just one of those great days when you both play really well. I think we should definitely be paired together again tomorrow!”