A third consecutive round of 66 sent Englishman Adam Gee two clear heading into the final day of the 2013 D+D Real Czech Challenge Open.
Gee fired eight birdies en route to his six under par total for a 54-hole aggregate score of 18 under par, bettering by two shots the Moving Day efforts of Spain’s Adrian Otaegui and Italian Andrea Pavan – with whom the Londoner had previously shared the lead overnight.
Francois Calmels is one shot further back after a seven under par 65, while England’s Matt Ford is part of a three-man tie for fifth place with 18 holes to play after equalling the course record with a stunning nine under par 63 on Saturday.
Gee came flying out of the blocks as two pin-point wedges to six feet handed the 32 year old a pair of birdies on the opening two holes at Golf & Spa Kuneticka Hora.
Two good birdie putts at the seventh and ninth sent Gee clear after turning in 32, before a bogey at the 11th was sandwiched between two further gains at the tenth and 12th as Gee’s fine iron-play came to the fore once again.
The putting was solid throughout, too, as Gee negated a second drop of the day at the 14th with two 12-foot birdies at the 15th and long 16th and despite missing a makeable opportunity at the last he was well-pleased with his Saturday efforts.
“It was obviously really nice playing with Rob (Dinwiddie), I know him very well and he’s a good friend of mine so we were both fairly relaxed early doors and I managed to get off to a good start,” said Gee, whose best finishes on the Challenge Tour previously are two third places in 2010 and 2007.
“I chucked a couple of mistakes at it on the back nine but finished quite well so you can’t complain really.
“It was important to start fast. You know there are plenty of birdies out there and tomorrow will be similar. If you’re not making any birdies then you’re standing still so it was nice to get running straight away.”
With such prodigiously low scoring at Kuneticka Hora over the opening three days, Gee knows he will need to go out with aggression and purpose on Sunday.
“It sounds boring but I just want to keep doing what I’m doing,” he reflected. “I can’t expect to shoot level par tomorrow and still be up there so I know I need to go and get at the course again. A 69 would probably be a minimum.
“It’s great to be right up there in contention again; I’ve been more used to spending my weekends at home recently so I’m going to go out there any enjoy it.”
After sharing the lead on 12 under par overnight, Otaegui also began well, firing a wedge to three feet to card an opening birdie but found his progress curtailed at the fifth after a series of wayward shots led to double bogey.
The 20 year old admirably bounced back, and quickly, getting back under par thanks to birdies at the long seventh and ninth, where he struck an eight iron out of the right rough to a couple of inches to turn in 35.
A superb 50-foot birdie putt found the cup at the tenth and despite making bogey at the 11th the San Sebastian man birdied the 12th, 13th and 16th to sign for a four under par 68, just two off the lead with 18 holes to play.
“Anything can happen tomorrow on a course like this,” Otaegui commented. “I’ll start from zero tomorrow, shoot as good as I can while knowing that someone a few shots behind tonight could go crazy and make nine, ten, 11 under par.”
Pavan, meanwhile, made birdies at the third and fifth before a tricky third out of the bunker at the sixth led to birdie. The Roman struggled somewhat for a period after that setback, making seven straight pars before finally finding a third birdie of the day at the 14th.
Another followed at the long 16th before the former Challenge Tour Number Two holed a 20-footer at the last to grab a share of second place on 16 under par.
He said: “It was a bit breezier than the last two days, especially on the front nine and the ball was going further with the heat which made it a bit trickier.
“I spent too much time in the rough today so please tomorrow, let me hit more fairways!”
During his seven under par 65, Calmels, already a winner this season at April’s Challenge de Madrid, almost won the Peugeot 308 hole in one prize at the 224-yard par three 17th, hitting an almost-perfect four iron to an inch of the hole.
The Frenchman will start three off the lead knowing that birdies are there for the taking in what promises to be a thrilling finale.