England’s John Mellor and Sweden’s Joel Sjoholm sit on top of a packed leaderboard after day three of the SWALEC Wales Challenge.
The pair finished on four under par at Vale Hotel Golf and Spa Resort after rounds of 72 and 71 respectively.
One shot back in third is England’s Ian Garbutt, who has his sights set on securing his first European Challenge Tour title in 12 years after playing himself firmly into contention.
A steady round of 71 moved Garbutt to three under par and within striking distance of the joint leaders.
After re-assessing his schedule during a family holiday in Portugal last week, Garbutt will now concentrate full-time on the Challenge Tour in a bid to regain his playing privileges on The European Tour, which he lost last year.
Garbutt said: “I decided not to play in Russia this week, because the Challenge Tour is my best route of getting back onto The European Tour full-time. I’m well down in the Rankings, but a decent finish here will be a massive boost.”
Compatriot Mellor, whose sole Challenge Tour victory came at the Open de Cote d’Ivoire in 1998, had looked to be establishing an insurmountable lead, only to drop three shots in his last four holes.
But the 38 year old was still pleased with his afternoon’s work, saying: “It could’ve been even better but level par round here’s not a bad score, so it’s not as if I’ve lost ground or gone backwards. I’ll probably be a bit nervous tomorrow, but being in with a chance of winning is why we play golf.”
For Sjoholm, the decision to return from Moscow – where he had flown to compete in the Inteco Russian Open Golf Championship on The European Tour – after learning of his invitation to play at the SWALEC Wales Challenge appears to be paying handsome dividends.
He said: “I feel like my game’s improving week on week. My main aim is just to enjoy myself, but obviously it’d be great to win on the Challenge Tour in my first season.”
Earlier in the day, Northern Ireland’s Michael Hoey secured his second hole in one of the season with an ace at the third hole. Hoey’s five iron from 213 yards pitched ten feet short of the pin and released into the cup for the fourth hole in one of his career.