South African Dylan Frittelli will take a one shot lead into the final round of the Tayto Northern Ireland Open in partnership with Ulster Bank after shooting a bogey-free 65 at Galgorm Castle Golf Club.
Frittelli, a former European Challenge Tour winner, had to complete his second round in the morning as a six-hour rain delay from Thursday’s first round carried through to Saturday.
The 26 year old carded a one under par 70 for his second round, but came out firing in the third round as he shot an eagle on the par four second hole.
Four more birdies followed and he overtook Wil Besseling at the top of the leaderboard with a total of 13 under par.
“It was tough out there,” said Frittelli.” But I knuckled down well, kept the bogeys off the card and threw in some birdies.
“It was a good tee shot on the second, I was 12 feet from the hole on the fringe and made a good putt.
“This morning I was focused on making the cut and playing the weekend. I didn’t finish my round that well, so I did some work on the range and felt a whole lot better. It was a good day, and I had good mental focus.
“When I come back [for the final round], I’m going to try and play the way I played today. If I shoot another round of six under par, I can’t see anyone else coming back and knocking a total of 19 under par.”
In his last four tournaments, Fritelli has recorded three top tens, including joint third place finishes at the Made in Denmark Challenge – Presented by Ejner Hessel and the Fred Olsen Challenge de España.
Holland’s Besseling led by one shot at the start of the third round and carded four birdies in his round of 68. He sits just one shot behind Frittelli.
“I’m in contention, and that’s a good thing because it’s been a while I’ve been in contention in the fourth round,” the Dutchman said. “I didn’t hit it great today, but I kept it in play and holed a few nice putts.
“Three under is a good score though. I’m just one shot back and I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s final round.”
Defending champion Clément Sordet shot a blemish-free 67 and takes sole ownership of third place on 11 under par.
“I’m very happy. My short game is great and I hit the ball really well,” said Sordet. “I hit 18 greens today, so I didn’t have to chip once. My game is solid and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.
Sam Hutsby, tournament host and local favourite Michael Hoey, and Ryan Fox, who will represent New Zealand in the Olympics next month, sit a shot further back on ten under par.