Dylan Frittelli took a huge stride towards a maiden professional victory at the Kärnten Golf Open presented by Mazda after a flawless third round 65 gave the big South African a four-stroke lead going into the final day.
Frittelli’s bogey-free 65 was the joint-lowest score of the day at the Jacques Lemans Golf Club, putting him four clear of England’s Billy Hemstock and five ahead of Scotsman Lloyd Saltman.
Also still in the hunt for the title are fourth placed Filippo Bergamaschi of Italy, Ireland’s Peter O’Keefe and England’s Sam Walker on ten under, but they will have to go low to overthrow the leader.
Victory in Austria would have a huge impact on Frittelli’s fledgling career, but he is fully aware that he needs to get over the line before he can take advantage of being a Challenge Tour champion.
“It was flawless today in the sense that I didn’t drop any shots but there were still some moments where I had to make good up and downs and clutch putts to keep the card clean,” said Frittelli, who graduated Texas University last year having led his Texas Longhorns team mates to the NCAA Championship.
“I played to my strengths today – I hit a lot of fairways and greens which is really what my game is all about and then I actually made a few putts which is usually the difference between a good day and an average day for me.
“If I can get over the line tomorrow then it would be a big day for me. My category at the moment isn’t great on the Challenge Tour, and if I can win then it will allow me to really plan the rest of my year and pick my schedule to give me the best chance possible of moving forward and trying to get one of those European Tour cards at the end of the season.
“There is a long way to go obviously but I am playing well and hopefully I can go out there and finish the job.
“I will have a different strategy tomorrow – I played today like a match play match against Lloyd (Saltman) and it worked really well and enabled me to keep focus, but I will have a different approach for the final round.”
Frittelli’s match play strategy against Saltman proved hugely successful in round three, but he will find a new opponent for the final round following Hemshell’s fine 67.
The Englishman produced some outstanding golf of his own in round three, with his brilliant 35 foot right-to-left putt for an eagle three on the ninth hole an obvious highlight.
“The adrenaline was certainly flowing today and it should be the same again tomorrow I would imagine, although I am trying not to think too far ahead and have to roll out the old clichés of one shot at a time and sticking to the processes etc,” said Hemstock.
“I know that sounds boring but it is what you have to do. I suppose it will be good to lay in the last match because it will give me a chance to see what Dylan is doing and then I will be able to react quickly if I have to.
“But in saying that, I won’t have a particular mind set or game plan, I will be trying to do what I have done all week so far because it has worked well.”
Frittelli will start the final round as clear favourite, but he will be pursued by a chasing pack crammed with quality and experience.