Jordan Smith maintained his position at the top of the leaderboard after the third round of the Red Sea Egyptian Challenge Presented by Hassan Allam Properties with a gritty performance to reach 15 under par.
The halfway leader battled windy conditions for a two under par 70 to hold a two shot lead over Switzerland’s Joel Girrbach who played himself into contention on moving day at Sokhna Golf Club.
The 22 year old rose up the rankings with a four under par 68, but it was not enough to overtake England’s Smith who was relieved to stay at the summit of the leaderboard after 54 holes.
“It was a battle out there today,” said the 23 year old. “The wind picked up which made it very difficult. I got off to a good start and I just missed a lot of short putts, so it could have been really good but I am really pleased to keep that steady score going.
“I have hit it really good this week, and the rest of this year, but I have been working on putting really hard with my coach as that’s something I need to improve.
“The first day here I putted well so I will just keep doing what I am doing and they will eventually drop in.
“I will go out and attack tomorrow as there are a lot of birdie chances here, and there will be a lot of good scores, so I think I am going to have to go out there and shoot as many under par as I can.”
The Englishman, who has picked up 18 birdies so far this week, dropped two shots today and saw his competition raise their game, with eight players making 66 or better in the Egyptian desert.
Girrbach, who turned professional just two years ago, was one player who made a move at Ain Sokhna – and he was over the moon with his day’s work.
“I’m very pleased with where I am,” he said. “I played really solid today and just missed one short putt on 16 so I made bogey there, but all in all I’m really happy with my game.
“I shot 65 yesterday and after that I tried to go to the course with the same mind set and it worked really well – I was two under par through three holes and I just tried to keep on going.
“I’m playing here on a wildcard so I’m trying to get the maximum out of it. I played a couple of Challenge Tour events last year and I’m just trying to enjoy my time here – I know the course really well and I just need to make as many birdies as possible.
“It’s new for me to be in this position on Challenge Tour but I’m trying to handle it well, and I’m looking forward to playing with the top guys tomorrow and giving it my best.”
During another scorching day on the Egyptian coast, the competition started to hot up as six players reached 12 under to share third place – just one adrift of Girrbach.
Amateur Champion Romain Langasque was one of them as he continued to make a good start to life on the paid ranks, carding a seven under par 65 to play himself into a position where he can challenge for his first professional win tomorrow.
Fresh from his hole-in-one yesterday, England’s William Harrold shot the best round of the day with an eight under par 64 to also reach 12 under par.