Saturday, 24 April 2004
André Bossert of Switzerland, and Englishman Gareth Davies share the lead going into the final round of the Al Ahram-Jolie Ville Sharm El Sheikh Challenge after respective rounds of 65 and 63 hoisted them to the top of the leaderboard with an aggregate score of 11 under par 199 at the Joilie Ville Golf and Resort, Sharm El Sheikh.

Bossert probably had the most unconventional preparation out of all the players who began this first international golf event ever staged in Egypt.

The 40 year old, who won the 1995 Air France Cannes Open on The European Tour International Schedule, got married in South Africa three weeks ago and had not swung a golf club for over a month before arriving in Egypt.

However, married bliss, coupled with an almost horizontal approach to life, has propelled Bossert to the summit of the leaderboard as he looks to home in on the third European Challenge Tour victory of his career.

The best round of his three so far came on day three, as he produced a bogey free 65 that he admitted could have been so much lower had he not missed four more good birdie chances.

“I came here not knowing what to expect in many ways to be honest,” said Bossert, who picked up shots on the third, fourth, 13th, 14th, and 16th holes at the 6456 yard Jolie Ville Golf and Resort.

“First of all, I have a very laid back attitude this weekend because I got married three weeks ago in South Africa and this is the first event I have played since my wedding.

“Secondly, I did not know what playing in Egypt would be like, but this course is a really good test and the resort we are staying in is just fantastic. The Red Sea has some of the best coral reef in the world, and, as I am a keen scuba diver, this place is just wonderful for me.

“Also, to be here with my wife has been great. We were so busy after the wedding that we didn’t get the chance to have a honeymoon, so we are staying on in Egypt for a few days after the tournament to have a bit of a holiday, so this week is just all going well so far.

“With all that in mind, I don’t really mind what happens in the last round, but as you always find when you really manage to adopt that attitude, I have been playing very well.

“I felt that my concentration was beginning to dip at the end of my third round because I have not played tournament golf for a month due to my wedding, but I managed to keep myself together and refocus on my game and had a nice 65 today.

“That could have been a lot lower as I missed a lot of chances on the front nine, but, as I said, my life couldn’t be any better at this moment in time so I’m just going to stay nice an relaxed and go and enjoy the final day tomorrow – it would be perfect to win this event.”

Davies, meanwhile, produced a flawless 63 to join Bossert in a tie for first place. The Englishman holed two 25 foot birdie putts in a row at the 11th and 12th to get to five under for the day, and added a further two birdies to come home in 31 shots.

The Englishman, who has been plying his trade on the UK’s third level, Euro Pro Tour, is relishing the opportunity to become a permanent fixture on the Challenge Tour – something he can achieve if he secures victory on Sunday afternoon.

He said: “I came out for third round hoping to pick up a few birdies and make my way up the leaderboard but I didn’t expect to shoot 63. I’m now in a great position that I would have jumped at the chance of being in when I arrived here at the start of the week, so hopefully I can keep it going and take advantage of the invitation I got to come here.

“I’ve been playing on the Euro Pro Tour, and over the winter I went to Florida and played in a mini tour there and I was just looking at this week as a bonus because the level out here on the Challenge Tour is higher than the Euro Pro Tour back in England.

“It would be great to get onto the Challenge Tour, which I can do if I manage to win this event.”

Germany’s Marcel Haremza is one shot behind Bossert and Davies, after his impressive 64 saw him charge up the leaderboard.

With many of the second round leaders not capitalising on the perfect conditions during round three, the inaugural Al Ahram-Jolie Ville Sharm El Sheikh Challenge looks like to go right to the wire with five players – including Friday night leaders Neil Cheetham and Oliver Whitely – joined together on nine under par, and a further six on eight under.

“It’s still anybody’s tournament really,” said Cheetham after his round of level par 70, with Whitely adding, “there’s going to be a lot of guys going for low scores tomorrow and I think to win here you will have to play with plenty of controlled aggression.”

It should be quite a climax.

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