Italy’s Alessandro Napoleoni conquered the storm clouds to take a one shot lead into the final round of the Segura Viudas Challenge de España after a double disruption to the third round due to lightening storms that circled Torremirona Golf Club throughout Saturday afternoon.
The 26 year old Italian shot 66 for a 15 under par aggregate of 201, and leads Frenchman Gregory Bourdy and the Swede, Johan Skold, with just one round to go after the second placed duo carded respective scores of 70 and 71.
Napoleoni started the day well with a birdie on the first hole, but then smacked his ball out of bounds at the third, where he was forced to take double bogey.
He made immediate amends, though, picking up shots at the fourth, fifth and sixth to get back under par for the round. He added to his impressive ru on the ninth and tenth before the first of the afternoon’s two suspensions forced him to mark his ball on the 12th and take cover in the clubhouse.
On resumption, Napoleoni got right back on track by birdieing the 12th, but was forced back indoors just two holes later as the lightening returned to Torremirona.
When he finally finished his third round, after another birdie at the 17th, Napoleoni was delighted to be in the lead.
“I putted so well today,” said Napoleoni. “I made one from 30 feet on the tenth and then from 25 feet on the 17th – my putting was the key today because my game from tee to green was not too impressive.”
After a sensational second round 63, Bourdy was disappointed to get to only two under for round three – but was heartened to be just one shot off the pace after a disruptive day on the course.
“I thought after playing so well yesterday that I could do better than 70 today, but I am very happy that I am just one shot behind the leader,” he said.
Larsen, who was the last player to complete his third round before the initial suspension, moved to 13 under par alongside Kariem Baraka of Germany with five birdies, an eagle and just a single dropped shot for a 66.
The 28 year old said: “I played pretty solid out there today and putted ok – it was very good to finish play before the suspension because that can really disrupt your round.”
The Welshman Mark Pilkington, meanwhile, exorcised the ghosts of his poor performance at Torremirona last year, when he missed the cut at The European Qualifying School Stage Two.
Pilkington carded nine birdies to join his fellow countryman Garry Houston, the Swedish duo of Johan Axgren and Leif Westerberg and Frenchman Olivier David en route to a 65 before the storm clouds gathered.
“That was a pretty good round,” said Pilkington. “I made a good birdie at the first and then gave it back straight away, but after that I recovered well after that and played very nicely.
“It is nice to play well here because I wasn’t very successful at the Qualifying School, and it was also a nice bonus to finish the third round today before the storms interrupted play.”