Nico Geyger put himself firmly in contention to claim a maiden title in only his sixth appearance on the Challenge Tour after moving two shots clear of Sweden’s Jens Fahrbring in the D+D Real Czech Challenge.
The Chilean was followed round Golf & Spa Kunetická Hora by cousins Markus and Thomas, and gave the Schmidt brothers plenty to cheer in a round of 67 which included five successive birdies from the tenth hole.
Geyger’s display, which carried him to 15 under par, was all the more impressive given the conditions in Drítec, with a stiff afternoon breeze making life difficult for the field.
The 28 year old, who had entered the weekend in a tie for the lead with England’s Steven Brown, got off the worst possible start with an opening bogey, but immediately responded with a trio of birdies to turn in 34.
The fun really started on the tenth hole, however, as Geyger found his groove with his irons and began peppering the pins, most notably on the 13th where he came within inches of an ace.
But the quintet of birdies came to a juddering halt at the 15th hole, as an awkward stance in a bunker led to a double bogey six. He swiftly regained his composure, however, and parred his way in to move within sight of a debut title in his first season on the Challenge Tour.
Geyger said: “I drove the ball very well and made a lot of putts, so any time you do that you’re likely to have a good day. In some ways starting with a bogey was actually a good thing, because it woke me up pretty quickly and made me focus. I got it back with three birdies on the front nine, then from the tenth on I was hitting it close on almost every hole.
“I almost holed my approach to the tenth, hit it fairly close on 11 and 12 and then very nearly made a hole in one at the 13th. So I really had it going, but unfortunately it came to an end with the double on the 15th. I got a bit unlucky there with my stance so I didn’t get too down on myself, then I made a few chances coming in but didn’t manage to hole any putts.
“I’ve been working really hard on my game these last few weeks and months, and it’s great that it’s finally beginning to pay off because it makes it all worthwhile. I’ve played better every day this week, so if I can keep that run going tomorrow then even if I don’t win, I’ll still be happy.”
Fahrbring already has one Challenge Tour title to his name, in the 2013 Norwegian Challenge, and the Swede is in a good position to double his haul after signing for a flawless round of 67.
Fahrbing rattled off two birdies in his first three holes to get off to a blistering start, before adding three more after the turn to climb to 13 under par.
He said: “I holed a 25 footer on the first for birdie, which was the perfect start. I didn’t hit the ball as well as I can today, but that made me play smart golf so my game management was very good. I really made the most of my opportunities, and I couldn’t have got much more out of my round.
“The conditions today were definitely the toughest of the week, the wind really picked up on the front nine so you had to be very careful. It died down a little bit on the back nine, and I was able to pick up a few more shots coming in. So it was a good day, and hopefully tomorrow can be an even better day.”
In-form Frenchman Sebastien Gros, who finished in a tie for third in Austria last week, currently shares third place with playing partner John Hahn of America, who matched Gros’ round of 68 to move to 11 under par.