Nick Cullen shot the lowest round of the day to take a two shot lead into the final round at Le Vaudreuil Golf Challenge after a four under par 67 put him on 14 under par for the week.
The Australian played flawless golf almost all day at Golf PGA France du Vaudreuil, the only blemishes a bogey on 17 and a three-putt on the reachable par five 18th, but, with many hopefuls heading the wrong way down the leaderboard on moving day – only 20 players shot under par for their third rounds – he still pulled clear of the chasing pack.
The 32 year old is playing in just his third Challenge Tour event this week and arrived in France after mixing it with the world’s best golfers in the Open Championship at Royal Troon last week.
“The game feels good,” he said. “I’m putting a little better than I did last week but the course suits me because you’ve got to shape it a bit off some of the tees, and I’m hitting it well and feeling good.
“I was surprised no-one went really low, I was expecting someone to go out and shoot seven or eight under and have to go and chase that, so to see my name up there early was a bit of a surprise.
“It was a bit disappointing I couldn’t then finish it off on the back nine and I missed a couple of putts there towards the end, but I’ve put myself in contention on Sunday and that’s all you can hope for.
“That 17th is starting to look like a problem! Bogeys two days in a row, but I’ll birdie it tomorrow to try to make up for it – you can’t worry about it too much, I’ve been in play both days but just haven’t hit good iron shots.
“Today was a little trickier overall, especially the greens – they’re firming up, which is a bit more what I’m used to back in Australia, so I hope it keeps going that way tomorrow as well.”
Hot on Cullen’s heels are Sweden’s Alexander Bjӧrk and Ross Kellett of Scotland on 12 under par, with South African Dylan Frittelli a further two shots back in fourth place.
Overnight leader Clément Sordet struggled in breezy conditions as he could only shoot 74 to drop to a tie for fifth as he bids to become the first French winner of the event.Reigning champion Ryan Fox showed his affinity for the course once again by tying Cullen for the low round of the day and moving up into the top 15 as he aims to make the first successful title defence on the Challenge Tour since Daniel Vancsik 12 years ago.