On top of another congested leaderboard at the end of day three are Cyril Bouniol and Jeppe Huldahl, who will take a narrow one stroke lead into the final round of the Kärnten Golf Open presented by Mazda.
Both players posted 14 under par after 54 holes at Golfclub Schloss Finkenstein to hold a narrow advantage over the chasing pack, with some 24 players within four shots of the lead.
Starting two hours ahead of the final group, Bouniol made an electric start to birdie his first four holes, with a further two red figures coming as he made the turn at six under par for the day. He picked up further strokes at both the par fives on the back side, the 12th and 16th holes, which all added up to the joint lowest round of the day – an eight under par 63.
This is the Frenchman’s first season on the Challenge Tour, and this week is only his sixth start. He has taken to Europe’s second tier with aplomb so far in 2014, posting four top 25s, which included a tie for fifth at last month’s Challenge de Catalunya.
Needless to say, the 26 year old was delighted with his play, and excited to battle for a maiden title on Sunday: “I started really well, birdieing my first four holes and things continued to go well after that. It was just a case of trying to play like I have been the past few weeks. I've made a few mistakes of late, and I’ve tried to learn from those, and I kept it going well today.
“I turned in six under, but on the back nine it could have been really low, as I hit a few really good putts that didn’t quite go in. I managed my emotions pretty well though, and in the end it was a great round. I’m really happy.
“Today was just a round of golf, and tomorrow will be another one. It doesn’t matter whether I am playing for the win or not, I just try to take every round like it is a regular round of golf. Obviously it is nice to play for the win, I’m not going to lie, we are all here for that.
“I’m right back up there though, and that’s great. It will be a great experience, the second time this year I’ve been in contention for the win, so I’m learning every time and hopefully tomorrow I can play solid, stay in the present, and focus on what I can control. You just have to do your job, and I’ll be focusing on doing my own thing on Sunday.”
Alongside Bouniol is Huldahl, who followed up his superb round of 60 on Friday with a five under par score of his own, which has him ideally placed to win for the first time since his victory at The Celtic Manor Resort Wales Open on The European Tour in 2009.
In the five years since, Huldahl has had some ups and downs, but he believes his game is coming good at just the right time. Following on from his runner-up finish last week at the Turkish Airlines Challenge, the Dane feels it is about time he picked up another trophy.
“It was fairly solid today, and in a way I felt like I played better than yesterday, but not as much happened,” said the man from Copenhagen. “I took advantage of the par fives, with another birdie in there too, and it all added up to five under. I feel good out there though, it is coming around and feeling more and more solid, which is nice.
“I managed to go out there without thinking too much about yesterday’s round, and I think I did well in that aspect today. I think it is about time that I picked up another win, it has been a while. I feel like my game has been on the way for quite a while now, so it would be good to get another one under the belt to prove it to myself.”
Overnight leaders Andrew Johnston and Jérôme Lando Casanova are in the group one stroke back, after rounds of 68 on Saturday. They are alongside another six players on 13 under par, which includes 2009 US Amateur Champion Byeong-hun An (64), Italy’s Filippo Bergamaschi (65), the German pair of Florian Fritsch (66) and Moritz Lampert (65), England’s Paul Maddy (67) and Spaniard Borja Virto (66).
In a tie for 11th, just two strokes behind the leading duo, are the English pair of Ben Evans – who also shot 63 in the third round – and Steven Tiley (64).
They are alongside two-time European Tour winner Daniel Vancsik (68) on 12 under par heading into Sunday, while Barclays Kenya Open winner Jake Roos (66) is also handily placed, a further shot back in a tie for 14th.