José-Filipe Lima and Stuart Manley lead by one going into the final day of the 56˚ Open de Portugal @ Morgado Golf Resort.
The pair are joint top on five under par in Portimão after a windy Moving Day at Morgado Golf Resort, where sub-70 rounds came at a premium.
Wales’s Manley, who recorded a tied ninth finish in Turkey two weeks ago, recovered from an opening bogey to card five birdies, his final gain of the day coming courtesy of a brilliant 25-foot putt the 16th hole, to sign for a four under par 68 – the best round of the day in the Algarve.
Portugal’s Lima, a four-time winner on the European Challenge Tour, joined Manley at the top later in the day by bagging four birdies and a single bogey to go into the final round with an excellent chance of becoming the first Portuguese winner of his home open.
The duo surpassed overnight leader Adri Arnaus as he dropped down the leaderboard with a two over par 74 – his first over par round of the tournament.
After a long off-season where he had surgery to remove skin cancer from his elbow – known as Basal Cell Carcinoma – Manley was thrilled to be battling for another Challenge Tour title once again.
“It was pretty good out there – you just had to stay patient,” said the 39 year old, whose sole Challenge Tour title came in 2013 in Finland when he finished two shots clear of second-placed Lima.
“I got off to a poor start, which was very unfortunate as I hit a great drive on the first but it went a bit too far and I got stuck in a downhill slope in a bunker right by the green so I ended up making bogey, but after that I was pretty much faultless all the way round.
“I was really happy with how I dealt with the wind, I holed a few crucial par putts and took a few chances and was very happy to post four under. I was very solid and was never in trouble.
“It was a lot tougher in the wind today. I am pretty used to the wind from playing at home in Wales so hopefully it is windy again tomorrow as it suits me.
“It was nice to have a top ten finish in Turkey and to also play very solidly in Kenya after having a few months out injured – I had surgery on my elbow to remove some skin cancer so I was itching to get back after what was a long winter.
“I am sure that Lima will have the home support on his side tomorrow and he’s a great guy – we have played together plenty of times before and hopefully we can bring the best out of each other tomorrow. It would be great to get another one over him though!”
“On a day like today, it is a big advantage to have a lot of experience and be older,” Lima said. “It is great to play in the wind and in this situation it is very important to be able to play a punch – my favourite shot.
“My approach play has been excellent and although I am not holing all of my putts my iron play has been fantastic. I avoided making any three putts today and that was the key to my good score.
“Tomorrow is supposed to be very windy so I will need to be steady, my head will need to be cool, and it will be very important to start well and hold my score.
“It is always very difficult to win a tournament, whether it is the Challenge Tour or the Alps Tour, and I can play the best round of my life here but someone else could still beat me.
“My third place here in 2005 is a national record and I hope the Portuguese can break this record this year – hopefully that will be me.”
Also in contention from the home nation is Pedro Figueiredo, who is one of a group of seven players – including last week’s Challenge de España champion Oscar Lengden – who are one shot back with 18 holes to play.