Spaniard Jesus Maria Arruti will carry a three-shot lead into the final round of the Moroccan Golf Classic, where he will bid to capture his third Challenge Tour title 13 years after his last victory.
A flawless round of 69 saw Arruti, a veteran of no fewer than 20 visits to The European Tour Qualifying School, move to 12 under par, with American Christopher Baker his nearest challenger on nine under after a level par round of 72.
Arruti’s last victory came at the 1997 Modena Classic Open, but after dropping just two shots over the three days at Pullman Mazagan Royal Golf and Spa in El Jadida, Morocco, the Spaniard is confident of ending the 13-year drought.
He said: “My last win in Italy was a long time ago, but I can still remember it well! I hadn’t expected to wait so long for my next one, but hopefully I can finish the job tomorrow. I’m playing very well – I think I only missed two greens today. So if I can keep up this level of consistency tomorrow, then I’ll have a great chance.”
The man hoping to deny Arruti his long-awaited victory is Baker, who started the week with an advantage over most of the field having already played the course in April, when the event was due to be staged until the volcanic ash cloud intervened.
Baker, one of 11 Americans in the field, was disappointed with his round of 72 – an eagle three at the 11th hole notwithstanding – and knows he will have to raise his game if he is to overhaul Arruti.
He said: “I didn’t play as well as I can today – having made a bunch of birdies on the first two days, I didn’t make one today. But I’m still in the hunt, so hopefully I can have a better day tomorrow and put some pressure on Jesus. He’s playing very well though, so I’ll have to go low to win.”
Third place is shared by Dutchman Richard Kind and Italian Stefano Reale, who sit on eight under par after respective rounds of 72 and 70.
The lowest score of the day was posted by Northern Ireland’s Jonathan Caldwell, who moved to six under par courtesy of a round of 64. The Ulsterman shares fifth place with American Nico Bollini, Argentine Pablo Del Grosso, Denmark’s Thomas Norret and Italian Andrea Perrino.
|1||BAKER, Christopher Ryan||USA||18||-13|
|T2||DEL GROSSO, Pablo||ARG||18||-11|
|T2||ARRUTI, Jesus Maria||ESP||18||-11|