Saturday, 22 April 2017
Ryan Evans (photo by Turkish Airlines) ()
Ryan Evans (photo by Turkish Airlines) ()

Ryan Evans opened up a two-shot lead going into the final round of the Turkish Airlines Challenge as the scoring at Gloria Golf Club remained relentlessly impressive for the third day in a row.

The Englishman’s sublime eight under par round of 64 took him to 20 under par overall – which, for context, was Clément Sordet’s four round aggregate when he won around the New Course in Belek 12 months ago.

The 30 year old bookended his round with birdies, picking up shots on the first two and the last three holes as he overtook halfway leader Tapio Pulkkanen to end the day at the top of the leaderboard as he bids for a maiden European Challenge Tour title.

“I’m delighted,” he said. “I just set a goal to go out and play as well as I have over the first couple of days and I think I played the best today out of the three rounds.

“I only missed one shot out there, which in golf is very pleasing – it cost me a bogey, unfortunately, but apart from that I hit the ball really well tee to green and rolled in a lot of putts.

“I didn’t really feel I had to attack. The course is there to be scored, if you drive it well the greens are good and you can hole a lot of putts, you have a lot of wedges in, there’s five par fives, so I’m not surprised the scoring’s good.

“Having said that, I did say during one of the practice days that I couldn’t believe 20 under had won round here last year because I thought it was really tough and now I’m there after three days!

“That says it all about the quality of the field though, everybody here is a great golfer and that’s why the scoring in general has been so low.

“I don’t mind having a glance at the leaderboard because it gives you some confidence if you’re leading to see your name up at the top there and it means you’re playing some good golf.

“I got off to the perfect start today, putting it to an inch at the first and birdieing the second as well, so that relaxed me a little bit because before you go out, seeing how well Sebastian Heisele had played, could add pressure.

“It actually just made me think that there was a score out there to be made, and gave me the confidence that if I could keep up with the guys that were scoring low it could hopefully keep me in front, so that’s the plan for tomorrow too.”

Pulkkanen was steady, not dropping a shot all day, but by the time the Finn recorded his first birdie on the fourth hole, his one-shot overnight lead had already become a deficit.

Germany’s Heisele, out in the morning, had overtaken the final pair before they teed off, an outstanding nine under par round of 63 taking him to 14 under par.

Ultimately that sits six shots off Evans’ lead, with Pulkkanen the nearest challenger on 18 under par, but Antti Ahokas and Max Orrin – each a two-time winner on the Challenge Tour – are well placed on 15 under par, alongside Martin Ovesen, meaning it is by no means just a two horse race.

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