Victor Perez’s outstanding third round of 61 was not quite good enough to take the Challenge de España lead as Jarand Ekeland Arnoy birdied six of his last eight holes to hold a two-shot advantage with 18 holes to play.
The Norwegian had led by four at the start of play and was eight shots ahead of Perez but a bogey-free round of 11 under par gave the Frenchman the clubhouse lead on 17 under par, with Arnoy faltering around the turn at Izki Golf.
Both men will pursue a maiden European Challenge Tour title tomorrow and Perez, just outside the top 45 in the Road to Oman Rankings, is hoping to cap a breakthrough season at this level with a victory.
“I just kept hitting it at the pin!” said the 25 year old. “It was just one of those days where you can’t really explain what’s going on, it was really special.
“The lead was at 14 under and I was at six under so I was really just aiming to get past ten under – one guy in the lead, you never know what’s going to happen.
“I think it’s difficult because the first two-thirds of the season are just about playing as well as you can to put yourself in a good position going into the last six tournaments of the year – after that anything can happen.
“It’s my first season on the Challenge Tour so I’ve definitely learned a lot of stuff – every situation is new and you have all these questions to deal with every day and all you can do is go out there, play as well as you can and see where it goes.”
Arnoy, meanwhile, reeled off five straight birdies from the 11th hole and credited that run for allowing him to reach 19 under par and retain the lead going into the final round.
“I’ve played some incredible golf this week and I’m really proud about that,” said the 20 year old. “I got off to a good start but I struggled around the turn, missing four putts under six feet in five holes.
“I managed to turn it round and six birdies in my last eight speaks for itself – I was just hammering it at the pins on the back nine and was just playing incredible golf.
“I was surprised to see Victor was in front of me but we still had a few holes left and I’m happy to be two shots in front going into tomorrow.
“I feel ready to win. I feel like I’ve proven that I’m good enough so I’ve just got to go out there and do it – I’m just going to play the same golf as I’ve done so far, I’m hitting it really well, so I’m just going to continue that.”
With third place a distant five shots behind Perez and seven shots off the lead, there is a temptation to view Round Four as a two horse race, but Nick Cullen, Ben Evans, Marcus Kinhult and Kalle Samooja – all 12 under par – will hope to muscle their way into contention after good Moving Days of their own.
Behind them, Scott Gregory continued to impress in only his second tournament as a professional, his 65 taking him to 11 under par and into a share of seventh place with Jens Dantorp, Jack McDonald and Philipp Mejow.
David Borda, Scott Fernandez and Pedro Oriol are all vying for the top Spaniard crown, the trio tied on nine under par with 18 holes remaining on home soil.