Duncan Stewart will take a one shot lead into the final round of the Najeti Open after a fine third round of 67 – four under par – took him to nine under par for the week at Aa Saint-Omer Golf Club.
Weather delays over the first two days meant the second round had to be completed on the third morning, but, despite playing 30 holes in the day, the Scot enters Sunday at the top of a leaderboard also featuring Thomas Detry and Matthieu Pavon.
Stewart won a maiden European Challenge Tour title at the Challenge de Madrid last month and expects to be able to draw on that experience in his bid to seal another victory.
“It always helps to have done that,” said the 32 year old. “I hadn’t done it for such a long time so to have that there and know you can do it puts you in a good position.
“I knew where I stood this afternoon. There’s leaderboards out there and I knew I needed a decent round today to try to get back into contention after a disappointing finish this morning.
“I’m a leaderboard looker unfortunately, I wish I wasn’t, but I like to know where I am and it’s good to know when there are times you can be a bit more aggressive but it’s all about being patient out there, the course can bite you quite quickly.
“Anything can happen on this course, you can get it going but you can also make mistakes out there – you can quite easily run up doubles or triples, so you’ll just have to see what happens.
“I was pretty poor this morning, struggling a little bit, but then David Law has been helping me out with my swing and discovered something so I worked that out on the range, had a 30 minute nap in the locker room and went back out.
“I played pretty solid, made some good up-and-downs when I needed to and putted really well again – the key is giving yourself tap-ins around here and try to be stress-free because the greens are so undulating.
“It can be difficult dealing with the delays but if you’re in the right frame of mind it makes a big difference. It’s tough, and it’s been a long day – I played 30 holes today. But we’re getting used to it, and hopefully we’ll have some better weather next week in Scotland.
“I think the first 12 holes are key tomorrow and then if you’re in position you can maybe play a bit more conservatively, if not you’ll have to take a few more risks if you’re wanting to win the tournament.
“Out here the game plan is self-explanatory – you need to be below the hole, get up-and-down and put yourself in the right places. This course is good because you can’t be too aggressive, so the plan is to keep doing what I’ve been doing.”
Belgian Detry, playing in just his second professional event, will lead the chasing pack, a level par third round leaving the 23 year old one shot back on eight under par.
France’s Pavon, at Number Two the highest-ranked player on the 2016 Road to Oman in this week’s field, is one of three players sharing third place, with Dutchman Daan Huizing and Portugal’s José-Filipe Lima alongside him on six under par.