England’s Richard McEvoy, who sold shares in himself to five friends and associates to finance his Challenge Tour schedule, aims to pay his shareholders back with interest tomorrow in the final round of the SK Golf Challenge in Finland.
The 30 year old former Walker Cup player from Shoeburyness in Essex, who has won and lost his European Tour card three times, will pay the lucky quintet a handsome dividend if he captures the €28,000 first prize at Linna Golf.
McEvoy shot a third round 67 to finish on 208, eight under par, just two shots off the 54-hole lead held by former Amateur Champion Julien Guerrier of France and precocious Danish teenager, Jacob Olesen.
He said: “It’s an expensive business playing on the Challenge Tour, so last year I came to an agreement with the guys, who all live close to me, that in return for financing my schedule I would pay them back 50% of my official earnings.
“One if my best friend and the others are local businessmen and I am grateful to them because it took a huge financial pressure off me last season and again this year.”
McEvoy is currently sixth on the Challenge Tour Rankings and virtually assured of his European Tour card for 2010 but he said: “I am really fed up of getting my card and losing it again. It’s time I consolidated my position on the main Tour, but I would love to top the Challenge Tour Rankings first.
“I won the Qualifying School in 2003 but I would also be very proud to have the Number One Ranking on the Challenge Tour on my CV. Today was the best I’ve played all year – no missed greens and not a birdie putt outside 20 feet. Hopefully I can do the same in the final round.”
McEvoy will play with local favourite Roope Kakko in the penultimate pairing, just ahead of the joint leaders Olesen and Guerrier, who shot round of 66 and 67 respectively for ten under par totals of 206.
Olesen, just 19, has been playing in the Nordic League until recently, before finishing tied fourth in the SAS Masters on The European Tour a fortnight ago. Now, after rounds of 67-73-66 he has the chance to win his first Challenge Tour title and follow in the illustrious footsteps of some great Danes.
He commented: “I always looked up to Thomas Björn and I have practised with Søren Hansen, who is a great guy. All these players, like Thomas, Søren, Anders Hansen and Søren Kjeldsen have done amazingly well on The European Tour and I would love to emulate them one day.
“I thought my final round of 68 at Barsebäck recently was special, but this 66 came very close to it. Now I am in the final group and I love to be in this position. It’s what I’ve been training for – to make it into the front room!”
Guerrier, who carded a third round 67 to join Olesen in the final pairing, already has vast experience of playing on the big stage, having competed in The Open in 2006 and the Masters Tournament in 2007 after winning the Amateur Championship.
The 24 year old from just north of Bordeaux was pleased with his solid performance at Linna Golf, which contained no mistakes. He admitted: “You can take a lot of bogeys very quickly here if you are not careful and I got my strategy right. The greens are so fast that I would rather have a five metre uphill putt than a two metres downhill one.”
England’s Robert Coles is bang in contention to win his third Challenge Tour event of the season, an automatic promotion to The European Tour, after a “pretty soplid” third round 68 to share fourth place alongside McEvoy and France’s Julien Quesne. However Scotland’s Jamie McLeary, a winner on home turf last week, is seven shots off the pace after a third round 74.