Sam Hutsby’s lead was under serious scrutiny midway through the third round of The European Tour’s Qualifying School Final Stage but a birdie on the 18th, his ninth hole, meant he reached the turn two shots clear of nearest challengers Andy Sullivan and Peter Gustafsson.
Hutsby and Sullivan, playing in the same group, were having an exciting shoot-out on the Tour course of the spectacular PGA Catalunya Resort as Sullivan moved into the joint lead having birdied three of his opening four holes.
Bogeys on the 15th and 16th holes knocked him back, however, and Hutsby’s four at the par five 18th meant he returned to the top, the position he had occupied after the first and second rounds.
Gustafsson, winner of Qualifying School Final Stage in 2004, had a spectacular start to his round having teed off on the tenth, carding an eagle three, and while he followed that up with a bogey on the 11th, he battled back with birdies at the 13th and 18th to enter the back nine on three under, 12 under for the tournament.
Thomas Nørret, meanwhile, was having a superb day on the Tour course after he negotiated the front nine in 29, six under par, before adding to that with another birdie on the 13th to move into third place on 11 under par, seven under for the day, as he stepped onto the 16th tee.Warren Abery of South Africa remained in the hunt as he reached the turn in three under after starting with three consecutive birdies before adding another on the 14th, having started his round on the tenth.