George Murray holed his 143-yard approach shot to the 18th hole in the third round of the European Challenge Tour’s Egyptian Open presented by SODIC to take a one shot lead into the final day.
The Scotsman, who finished birdie-birdie-eagle at the JW Marriott Mirage City Golf Club in Cairo, will take a one stroke lead over Dutchman Floris de Vries and Italy’s Alessandro Tadini into the final day, as he bids to win the US$40,000 first prize and barge his way into a battle to win the Challenge Tour Rankings at next week’s Apulia San Domenico Grand Final.
Murray, winner of the Scottish Hydro Challenge in June, is currently ninth on the Rankings and could move into the top three with a win in Cairo Grand Final, where the top 20 players will earn promotion to the main Tour.
“I was playing alright and never had any great chances and then had a pretty explosive finish,” smiled Murray, who is ten shots ahead of World Number Nine Rory McIlroy after three rounds.
“I had 143 yards on the 18th and my caddie was trying to get me to hit a gap wedge and I said ‘no, no my friend, give me the wedge’ and she took once bounce and went straight in.
“I’m looking forward to tomorrow now – I am playing with a lot more confidence now which has just been a culmination of doing everything a bit better this year.
“I have had some great results this, with the win in Scotland obviously the highlight so far. It would be nice to win another one tomorrow and pick up that big cheque again.”
Both de Vries and Tadini will be Murray’s main threat to picking up the big cheque during the final round, with both men producing similarly remarkable third rounds to the leader for differing reasons.
Dutchman de Vries finished fantastically by birdying the 16th and eagling the par five 17th to match Tadini’s first round course record of seven under 65 for an 11 under total.
Tadini’s 69 did not seem as impressive as Murray’s 68 or de Vries’ 65 until the Italian revealed he was suffering from gastroenteritis and had not slept much on Thursday evening.
“I felt very weak at points out there today so overall I am really happy with the score because I certainly didn’t think I was going to play too well today. I am confident for tomorrow – I just need to try and eat something and get some rest to regain some strength and hopefully I can finish the job.”
De Vries said: “I certainly didn’t see that score coming today when I bogeyed the first. I actually though ‘oh here we go’ when I dropped one on the first but I played great after that and the finish was pretty strong.
“It would be great to win here and be able to go to the Grand Final next week in a very relaxed frame of mind, knowing that I had a very strong card for The European Tour next year.”
McIlroy, meanwhile, produced his own brilliant finish of four birdies in his closing six holes as he got to grips with his game and gave Egypt a glimpse of his sublime talent.
Having struggled to find his best form in the land of the Pyramids because of an on-going swing change, McIlroy finally saw some light at the end of the technical tunnel after his rousing finish at the JW Marriott Mirage City Golf Club ensured a third round of three under par 69 and a two under total of 214 heading into the final round.
“I started hitting a few good shots on the driving range which is always nice to see and managed to take it out on to the golf course,” said McIlroy. “I started quite nicely – had a bit of a dodgy middle spell and then finished strongly with four birdies in the last six holes so it’s definitely a lot better today.
“I am usually pretty quick with swing changes and stuff but it takes everyone at least a little while to get comfortable with it and I’m still trying to get comfortable with what I am trying to do.
“It feels a lot better. Today I focused more on the target, had a pre-shot rehearsal of what I was trying to do then I tried the swing and it seemed to work pretty well.
“When you see the ball start off on line and you hit a few good shots it certainly helps your confidence. I still hit a few loose shots out there but it is certainly moving in the right direction, which is a good thing.”
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