Erik van Rooyen will take a one-shot lead into the final day of the Kazakhstan Open after signing for a third round of 68 in Almaty.
The South African went into the third day at Nurtau Golf Club one shot behind overnight co-leaders Mikael Lundberg and Estanislao Goya, and he immediately reduced that deficit with two birdies over his first three holes.
A double-bogey at the par-four sixth slightly checked van Rooyen’s momentum, but the 27 year old rallied and followed that blemish with a birdie at the seventh and an eagle at the par-five eighth.
That recovery set the tone for a steady back nine which included two gains – and took van Rooyen to the top of the leaderboard after reaching 14 under par overall.
With a season-changing pay cheque on offer for the winner of the lucrative event, van Rooyen knows how important a good finish is – but believes he will remain positive regardless of tomorrow’s result.
“It is a big event but in the grand scheme of things it is hopefully just one of hundreds I will play in my lifetime,” he said.
“A win or a good finish would be fantastic but at the end of the day there is always next week and many more after that.
“My game is in great shape and I have been working on a lot of good stuff recently – it seems to be coming together at the right time.
“My plan at the start of the week was to really capitalise on the par fives and I definitely think that I have been doing that.
“I made a really good start today by birdieing two and three – especially three which is really tough on this course.
“I made a bit of an error on the sixth but I managed to stay calm and bounce back on the seventh and eighth – I then kept it going from there.
“Today was definitely trickier. The wind picked up a bit over the last six or seven holes, and out here you have to be really good off the tee as it is quite tight, so the wind made it tougher but I held my nerve out there.
“I have been in contention a few times this year and I think that will definitely help me tomorrow. When I have been up there I haven’t finished tournaments as well as I would have liked, but I am feeling really good now and am ready for some fun tomorrow.”
One shot behind van Rooyen is Finland’s Tapio Pulkkanen, who carded two eagles and two birdies en route to a 66 and is well placed going into the final day in Almaty.
Also in the chasing pack is England’s Ryan Evans, who is one of the form players on the Road to Oman after recording six top tens in his last seven starts.
The 30 year old bagged six birdies and an eagle during an outstanding 65 today, leaving him two shots off the lead going into the last round.