Frenchman Victor Riu put himself in pole position to win his maiden Challenge Tour title with a magnificent nine under par 62 in the third round of the Swiss Challenge.
The 28 year old leads by four shots at Golf Sempachersee near Lucerne thanks to seven birdies and an eagle, with Scotland’s Jamie McLeary the nearest challenger at 14 under par after a 65 which featured five straight birdies to finish.
Italian Andrea Perrino also shot 65 to be another shot back at 13 under, while it was a less enjoyable day for overnight leader Jamie Elson, who signed for a 73 to slip back into the pack.
Riu, who was tied third in Germany last week and tied seventh at Saint-Omer last month, said: “It was another great day where everything seemed to go right. I holed many putts, and on the ninth I had some luck when I holed my second shot from the rough from about 140 metres for an eagle two.
“I learned a lot from last week, because it was my first time playing in the last group on a Sunday and being in contention.
“I was very stressed and thinking too much about winning, and I looked at the leaderboards too much, so tomorrow I’m going to try to focus more on my game and on keeping the feelings that I’ve had the last three days.
“It’s the first time I’ve led going into a final round, but I will try to be as relaxed as possible and treat it as just another round.”
McLeary said: “To finish that way was great, and that putt for birdie at the last was the longest of the lot. I hit some great approaches coming in.
“I kept looking behind and I didn’t need to see a leaderboard to know that Victor was playing well, and his game is very well suited to this course. All I can do tomorrow is play my best and hope it’s enough.
“No lead is safe in this game. I remember a few years ago Peter Whiteford was leading by nine in the last round and it got cut down to two at one stage. So four shots is not a lot and things can change very quickly.”
Perrino has made just four cuts from ten appearances this season and his best finish of 2013 is tied 41st, but a recent technical adjustment to his swing is paying dividends.
“I’ve hardly made any money all season and it was becoming so frustrating,” he said. “I needed the help of my coaches to make a few changes to the swing, and I’m so glad it’s working.
“I’ve played really nicely today and yesterday, and it’s a welcome change being in contention tomorrow. That hasn’t happened since last year, so I’m not sure how I will feel, but I’ve got my wife on the bag and we’ll just try to do our best and see what happens.”
Young American Brinson Paolini, playing his first tournament as a professional, made progress with a 64 to reach ten under par and a share of eighth place.