No fewer than seven players are tied for second behind Sweden’s Andreas Högberg, who sits at the top of a packed leaderboard after day three of the AGF-Allianz Open Côtes d’Armor Bretagne on the European Challenge Tour.
Högberg, the latest youngster off the production line of Swedish golfing talent, was on course to establish a comfortable lead going into the final day at Golf Blue Green de Pléneuf Val André, until his charge was derailed when a hooked drive led to a lost ball and a quadruple bogey eight at the 14th hole.
That saw him drop from eight under par to four under, and he suffered further misfortune with a bogey on the 15th.
Högberg, playing his first full season on the Challenge Tour, said: “My hands were shaking and my head was swimming after that, so I was just happy to play the last three holes well and even finish with a birdie. That made me feel much better, and now hopefully I can forget about the 14th and sleep well tonight.”
That birdie on the final hole meant Högberg signed for a round of 70 to finish day three on four under par.
The young Swede, whose close friend Alexander Noren is now a European Tour member, said: “I’ve never led going into the final round before, so it’s a new experience for me – but I’m looking forward to it.”
Högberg will play in the final group with Joakim Haeggman, whose career has been seemingly rejuvenated by his decision to revert back to his former coach Simon Holmes.
The former Ryder Cup player shot a 67 – the lowest round of the day – to finish on three under par, along with Australia’s Andrew Tampion.
The pair were joined on three under by a quintet of Brits: David Drysdale of Scotland, and Englishmen Andrew Butterfield, Stuart Davis, David Horsey and Robert Rock.
Having opened the tournament on Wednesday with a triple bogey seven, Rock – the club professional at The Belfry – did not expect to be in contention with 18 holes left to play.
But with just Högberg ahead of him on the leaderboard, he has his sights set on claiming his first Challenge Tour title.
Rock said: “All sorts of things were going through my head after that seven on the first hole – like would I even make the cut? But I played very well for the remainder of the round, and even though I haven’t played particularly well over the past two days, I’ve hung in there. To be in with a shout of winning is a surprise – but it’s a nice surprise.”
Butterfield was also mildly disappointed with his round of 71, but feels his game is in good enough shape to record a maiden Challenge Tour victory.
He said: “I’d love to win, though I’ll probably have to play a bit better than I did today. But I know I can, because I struck the ball nicely on the first two days. If I can play like that again on the final day, I’ll have half a chance.”
Argentina’s Estanisloa Goya, Number One in the Rankings, saw his chances of gaining his second Challenge Tour title disappear with a nine on the final hole.