Rafael Echenique of Argentina extended his lead at the Telia Challenge Waxholm to five clear strokes with yet another outstanding scoring performance during the third round, when he posted a seven under par 66 to move five ahead of Chile’s Felipe Aguilar and Sweden’s Alexander Noren.
The standard of golf at the Waxholm Golf Club has been quite amazing during the tournament’s first three rounds, and no-one has been more impressive than Echenique, whose three scores of 65-68-66 have taken him to 20 under par 199 for the week.
The 25 year old has dominated the field over the first three rounds, but he will have to be at his low-scoring best during Sunday’s fourth round if he is to secure his maiden Challenge Tour victory.
Noren, after equalling Echenique’s course record of 65 in the third round, will certainly be one player hoping to catch the Argentine.
The Swede, who won for the first time at the Rolex Trophy just a fortnight ago, is fifth on the Challenge Tour Rankings and can further close the gap on Number One Johan Axgren with a victory on Sunday.
But the man to catch is runaway leader Echenique who, after a slow start to his third round stretched clear of the field with a brilliant scoring run after reaching the halfway turn. He did drop a shot at the tenth, but then conjured a birdie two on the 11th to cancel out that bogey before picking up further birdies at the 13th and 14th followed by an eagle three at the par five 15th.
Another birdie on the 17th took him to 20 under par for the week and, and stretched his lead to five shots.
Echenique is currently 19th on the Rankings, and victory at the Waxholm Golf Club could guarantee his place amongst the all important top 20 with five events remaining on the 2006 Schedule.
“I think that we can say I am playing alright now!” smiled Echenique after signing for his third round 66. “I played very well again today, even after I made a slow start. The first two holes here are easy birdie chances but I didn’t make any there and then bogeyed the third.
“But I got a birdie back right away on the fourth, and then putted very well on the back nine to come home in five under, which was very satisfying going into the final round.
“Tomorrow we will see what happens. I know that the players behind me will be coming at me tomorrow, but I hope that I can remain as calm as I have been for the first three rounds because I have a great chance to win at such an important stage of the season.”