Gary Stal and Daniel Brooks set up an intriguing final round battle at the Kärnten Golf Open presented by Mazda after the pair proved inseparable during the third round at the Golf Club Klagenfurt-Seltenheim.
On what proved a challenging day due a series of torrential downpours, the Frenchman and the Englishman ended the penultimate round locked together on 16 under par 200, with England’s Gary Lockerbie two shots off the pace.
While Stal maintained his high level of consistency with a four under par 68, Brooks was the man to watch as he put on a superb 17-hole display that saw him soar to the top of the leaderboard before he came unstuck at the 18th with a disappointing double bogey six.
Up until that one bad swing, Brooks had been imperious, reaching the turn in six under par 30 and picking up a further three strokes before his double bogey finish.
“I’m obviously a bit disappointed right now because of the way I played the last,” admitted Brooks. “It was a stupid tee shot really. There is only one place you really can’t go on that hole and I managed to find it so I really should have avoided that.
“But then you look at the rest of the card and I have to be happy with that. Any time you shoot 65 to get into contention going into the final round then you have to take a lot of positives out of it and that’s what I will do for tomorrow.”
Both Brooks and Stal could give their respective seasons a serious shot to the arm if they can fly home with the €25,600 first prize on Sunday afternoon. Brooks is currently 113th in the Challenge Tour Rankings to Stal’s 108th position.
The young Frenchman, who won the French Amateur Championship last year, is quietly confident he can get the job done after another impressively consistent performance in round three that featured just one bad hole – a double bogey on the ninth – and six birdies.
“It was pretty consistent again today,” said Stal. “Perhaps my driving wasn’t as accurate as the first two rounds, but overall I am happy with how I am playing.
“I am putting very well at the moment and that is helping with the confidence. Hopefully I can complete the job tomorrow – it would be a great moment for me to win my first Challenge Tour event here.”
Brooks is also eyeing his first victory on the circuit, and both men will have to be wary of a chasing pack – headed by Lockerbie – who will be looking to get off to a fast final round start to pile the pressure on the men at the top of the leaderboard.
Jordi Garcia Pinto of Spain is lying in third place on 12 under, with former Wales Open champion Jeppe Huldahl prowling a further stroke back on 11 under and just five shots of the pace.