A fine six under par 66 saw England’s Robert Coles draw level with compatriot Gary Boyd at the top of the leaderboard at the SSE Scottish Hydro Challenge hosted by Macdonald Hotels and Resorts.
Boyd, who led by four shots heading into the third round following superb opening rounds of 64-64, produced a more modest scoring performance of one under 70 at the Macdonald Spey Valley Golf Club as Coles, Thailand’s Prom Meesawat and England’s Jack Senior hauled themselves back into contention to set up a potentially thrilling final round.
Meesawat and Senior matched Coles’ best of the day 66 to respectively move into third and fourth positions on 13 and 12 under going into the last day and set up what looks likely to be a four-way battle for the title and €40,000 first prize.
Coles is the first to admit that his form – he has made just two cuts from seven appearances on the Challenge Tour this year – has been far from what is required to succeed at this level, but a recent change of coach has brought a fresh outlook to his game.
“I’ve been playing rubbish this year so this is a bit of a bonus,” said the 42 year old. “You can never put your finger on what is wrong but it’s just been a combination of little things. I changed coach and went back to some of my old methods to see if that would help. I probably needed a bit of freshness. Thigs have been steady all week but didn’t know it would be this good.”
Boyd was impressed by Coles’ performance alongside him, and is looking forward to a friendly battle on Sunday.
“I felt great going into today but Rob played great to shoot 66 so we can look forward to a bit of a battle out there hopefully – it looks like a four horse race between me, Rob, Prom and Jack who both had good scores today but hopefully I can go wire-to-wire which is always a tough thing to do,” he said.
“I think it will be a friendly battle – I have known Rob since 2008 and he is a guy you look at when you come out on Tour and know that he can always win. He’s got a lot of experience and has won out here a few times so he’s always going to be in with a chance when he is playing well.”
Like Coles, Boyd is man on the road to golfing redemption, having rediscovered his confidence and love of the game over the past few months.
Indeed, the 28 year old, who has made a staggering nine birdies over Spey Valley’s par threes this week, was quick to recall his mind set at last year’s SSE Scottish Hydro Challenge hosted by Macdonald Hotels and Resorts as he gauged the progress he has made over the past 12 months.
“No matter what happens tomorrow this has already been a great week for me in terms of the kind of bigger picture and progress that I have made over the past few months,” he said. “I have been driving the ball so well and taken so much confidence from it.
“If I think back to this tournament last year, I came here and I remember being so negative about my game. Apart from having to withdraw in St Omer last week, I have had a chance to win my last three tournaments. I wouldn’t have thought that was possible 18 months to a year ago, so the progress I am making is really positive.”