Finland’s Kim Koivu and Robert MacIntyre of Scotland will take a share of the lead into the Vierumäki Finnish Challenge final-round.
Both players put together fine performances on a windy Day Three that played as the most difficult of the tournament thus far.
Koivu maintained a clean scorecard throughout, as he dazzled the large home-crowds that turned up to cheer him and his fellow Finns on.
Beginning the day on nine under par, the Helsinki native quickly moved to the top of the leaderboard with four birdies on his opening-nine holes. He continued to impress the galleries on the back-half but saved his best for last after drawing a plugged lie in a greenside bunker on the 18th when he tried to reach the par five in two.
“I somehow got it out,” he said. “I just opened the clubface and hit it as hard as I could and then I just told myself I’ve got to make this putt.”
The closing-birdie moved him to 15 under par and gave him the outright lead. However, he was soon joined at the front by MacIntyre who also saved his best stuff for the end.
Following early gains on Moving Day, the Scot’s momentum seemed to stall on the closing holes as he made one par after another and appeared unable to move past his score of 13 under. The 22 year old remained aggressive though, and when he found the putting surface at the 18th in two, he took full advantage — converting his eagle to join Koivu at the top of the leaderboard.
The stage is now set for a thrilling finish as the leading-duo will be joined by another Finn, Antti Ahokas in the final grouping on Sunday. The 33 year old carded a six under par 66 to match Koivu for the round of the day, and sits only one shot back of the leaders.
Ahokas provided fireworks of his own at the last when he rolled in a lengthy birdie putt that drew remarkable cheers from the supportive fans.
“Everybody is obviously cheering for the Finns and Antti is playing very well,” said Koivu. “He’s played nicely the last couple of weeks, so it’s very exciting.”
Day Three will go down as a tremendous day for Finnish golf as a whole. Road to Ras Al Khaimah Number Five, Kalle Samooja is three shots behind the leaders in a tie for eighth place after carding a five under par 67, and with his proven firepower, is still very much alive heading into Day Four.
In all, six Finnish golfers are inside the top 25 through the first three rounds of their country’s largest and most prestigious golf tournament, which is being held at the famed Vierumäki Resort Cooke Course.
Tee times for the final round have been moved up, with rain forecasted for Sunday afternoon. The exciting conclusion to the Vierumäki Finnish Challenge will feature a split-tee start and will begin at 7:35 am local time.
Samooja begins his pursuit of victory from the first tee at 8:55 am, while the final threesome will go at 9:15 am.