Laurie Canter extended his advantage at First Qualifying Stage Section D thanks to a third round of 66 at Frilford Heath that saw him finish at 15 under par.
Wales’ Liam Bond is four strokes adrift of Canter in second place, while former Walker Cup star Jack Senior is a shot further back, with those in 24th place and ties set to advance to the next stage of the qualifying process.
The leading Canter was in fine form once again on Thursday, carding three birdies and a bogey in a front nine of 34 strokes. A further four red figures followed on his back nine, all of which has him in a strong position heading into Friday’s final round.
Canter has played six events on the Challenge Tour so far in 2013, making just two cuts, but this form could see a change in fortunes for the Englishman who was a successful amateur before turning professional two years ago.
Bond carved out his second place thanks to four birdies, a bogey and his second eagle of the week, which on Thursday came at the par four 16th hole.
A little over a month ago the Welshman had lead the ISPS Handa Wales Open through two rounds after a last minute invite, before eventually finishing in a tie for 43rd place.
In third, Senior had a particularly roller coaster round that included six birdies, four bogeys, an eagle and a double bogey. The good just outweighed the bad though for the Englishman, and his third round 70 has him handily placed to advance to stage two
England’s Jamie Rutherford made one of the biggest moves of the day, equalling Canter’s low round of the day to jump 12 places up the leaderboard and into a tie for fourth alongside compatriot Curtis Griffiths at nine under par.
While promising South African, Brandon Stone, is also going well at four under, but that is only one stroke inside the current qualifying mark.
At the other section D venue, Golf d’Hardelot, Haydn Porteous had lead at ten under par after two rounds, but is yet to complete 54 holes after a suspension late in the day prevented the final group from finishing.
Of those that have finished, Ben Evans (68) and Wes Homan Jnr (69) are both in a tie for second at seven under par, while Filip Eriksson (69) and Marcos Pastor (70) are a shot further back in a share of fourth place.