Scotland’s Jamie McLeary felt right at home in the third round of the KPMG Trophy as a two under par 70 on a blustery day left him tied for the lead.
The 34 year old is level with Frenchman Charles-Edouard Russo on eight under par at Golf de Pierpont, with four players – Alexander Björk, Sebastian Garcia Rodriguez, Taco Remkes and Gareth Shaw – a shot back on seven under.
The scoring was notably higher on day three as gusty winds swirled around the Belgian venue, but McLeary took full advantage having learned his trade on the links courses of his home country.
“It’s just like playing links golf here so it suits me,” said McLeary, whose only Challenge Tour title came in the Scottish Highlands in 2009. “The changes in wind, the firm conditions. The bunkering is not as severe as we have in Scotland and the greens are a bit softer here, but apart from that it’s practically the same.
“If it’s as windy as this tomorrow, I know that two under will be up there. If it’s calm, it becomes a much easier course and I imagine I’ll have to shoot something in the mid-60s to win.
“The first three holes are good birdie, maybe even eagle, chances, and then it becomes a brute.
“After I played the fifth and the seventh so well – two really tough holes – I thought there was a score out there. But maybe I was concentrating on the hard holes too much, because I bogeyed eight which is an easy hole straight down wind.
“I’m happy enough. I know if I play well I’ll be there or thereabouts.”
Russo was delighted to see some hard work paying off despite a one over par 73 which included six bogeys, three birdies and an eagle.
“I’ve worked so hard on my game over the last 18 months or so and this week it has really felt like it’s starting to come together,” said the 34 year old.
“The start was okay and I was hitting the ball really well, but the wind picked up and it was really tough. I told myself to stay calm, and I had an eagle on the 11th and birdies on the 12th and 15th, so I was never nervous.
“I knew with these conditions no one was going to shoot low. I like to play in this – you have to create shots and keep it low and sometimes take irons from the tee.
“Even if you’re playing well, in this weather you know you will make mistakes on some of the holes. I think today I always missed on the good side, so it was never disastrous.”
Overnight leader Remkes slipped to a 74, while the lowest score of the day came from Englishman Toby Tree, a 67 to move up to tied tenth, three shots off the lead.