England’s John E Morgan will aim to put six difficult years behind him when he takes a one stroke lead into the final round of AGF-Allianz EurOpen de Lyon.
Morgan claimed his maiden European Challenge Tour win at the Charles Church Challenge Tour Championship three months after he overcame dyslexia and epilepsy to turn professional in April 2002 but admits he has found the interim period difficult, including losing his European Tour card.
Those struggles could be wiped away with a win in Monthieux after the 30 year old shot a 66 at the Golf du Gouverneur to move to 18 under par, a shot clear of Switzerland’s Raphaёl De Sousa and England’s Marcus Higley.
Morgan’s lead might have been more had it not been for a mobile phone going off in the crowd which he said distracted him on the seventh hole, contributing to a wayward drive en route to a double bogey six.
That came after an eagle on the third hole and the man from Bristol also eagled the par four 13th after a holing a superb 117 yard two iron second shot from the rough.
He said: “The shot on 13 was an absolute beaut. I was in some rough and I’m not a big hitter but as soon as I hit it I knew I had caught it well then I just saw it disappear. There was a bit of pelvic thrusts for the crowd after that one.”
After four top ten finishes so far this season, Morgan feels he has a good chance of landing that elusive victory and helping him towards winning his European Tour card back.
He said: “It would be a pleasant surprise if I won, especially after everything that has happened to me. It’s been a difficult time for me and it would be an emotional win. I feel like I am playing better and getting back to where I was bit by bit but there is still room for improvement.
“It will be good having players so close behind as it will keep me on my toes. I don’t feel like I am playing fantastic but I feel like I am playing well enough to contend.”
De Sousa will hope it is third time lucky as he searches for his maiden Challenge Tour win after twice finishing runner up in 2008, missing out to Seve Benson at the Piemonte Open and then being pipped by Alessandro Tadini at the Oceânico Group Pro-Am Challenge.
The 25 year old, who shot a superb 64 to move to 17 under par, believes he has learned from his experience in those two tournaments.
He said: “I hope it’s going to be the week. In the previous two I don’t think I really realised what I was doing. I don’t think I had enough anger to challenge and be on top at the end. Hopefully tomorrow I will have enough motivation to go out and win.”
For Higley, who is currently 20th in the Challenge Tour Rankings, a victory would go a long way toward reclaiming his European Tour card which he lost last year.
After finishing second in France earlier in the AGF-Allianz Open Côtes d'Armor Bretagne, Higley is determined to go one better at the Golf du Gouverneur.
He said: “You know you have to go out there and make birdies, even just to stay where you are. A victory here would really help me in my goal to get my card back.”
Overnight leder Chris Gane is a shot further back on 16 under par along with countryman Gary Clark, who will attempt to become the first double winner on the European Challenge Tour this season.
Clark had to wait 13 years for his maiden title at the DHL Wrocklaw Open in May but the cockney is hoping victories are like London buses for him and that two come together.
He said: “It took me 13 years to get my first win and now I want more. A victory gives you confidence and I will draw on my experience of leading going into the final round in Poland and then winning when I play here.
“I want to win every time I go out now after Poland. It took me 13 years for one and I don’t want to wait that long for a second. I feel like I am playing the best golf of my life.”