Sebastien Gros reaffirmed his status as one of the European Challenge Tour’s players of the season with a two under par third round of 70 to muscle his way into a share of the lead of the Kazakhstan Open on 11 under par.
The overnight leader, American Sihwan Kim, had a scrappy round, four bogeys meaning he had to be content with a level par 72 to sit alongside Gros and Denmark’s Mads Søgaard, who had a 69 around Almaty’s Nurtau GC.
Gros currently sits in third place in the Road to Oman Rankings and he has previously tasted victory this season at the Najeti Open Presented by Neuflize OBC (see highlights below), though the Frenchman does not think this experience will necessarily be a significant factor in the final round.
“I wouldn’t necessarily give myself an advantage,” said the 25 year old. “Even though I have won this year, I’ve not always been very good when I’ve been in contention before. Maybe for those other guys it’s something they think about though.
“Golf can be so different from day to day, you can even have a bad last round without actually choking, so I’m not worrying about tomorrow, I’m just happy about my day and to be in contention.
“This round was a bit different from the two others. I had a few more difficulties on some of the greens, but obviously it’s great to be in contention for a big tournament like this.
“A week ago I would have definitely taken being co-leader with one round to play so, even though I could have probably had a better score, I’m happy with where I am right now.
“The greens are hard to read. The heat has affected a few of them, and then the ones in the shade are much slower, so this could be why the scoring has been more difficult today.
“The scoring on Thursday was very strange though, and was just one of those days. I played well and was still four shots behind the second place players, and they all just had one of those rounds that maybe happens once a season – it just happened on the same day for all of them.
“It’s not a course where 20 under par will win it, more like 15 or 16 under par, so the scoring right now is probably about right. And I’ll probably need to get to 16 under par tomorrow to have a chance to win.”
The round of the day went to Gros’ compatriot Clément Sordet, whose 66 propelled him up the leaderboard into fourth place, just one behind the leaders.
Sordet took a stunning maiden victory at last month’s Northern Irish Open in Association with Sphere Global and Ulster Bank and he hopes those memories can fuel another win tomorrow.
“Today I just needed a round like this to get close to the lead and hopefully give myself a shot at winning tomorrow,” said the 22 year old.
“I was thinking this morning about when I won in Northern Ireland and how I came through the field on the weekend. It happened once, why can’t it happen again? I wasn’t thinking about the score at all but I ended up on six under, so a very good round.”
There are 16 players within five shots of the leaders on a bunched leaderboard as the hard ground and firm greens made scoring more challenging than earlier in the week, but it sets up a thrilling final day for the biggest event of the Challenge Tour season, with a €450,000 prizefund.