Niclas Fasth of Sweden moved into contention to become the first player to win the European Tour Qualifying School for a second time at San Roque.
The 27 year old from Gothenburg won the top card in 1996 when he emerged victorious from the marathon 108-hole examination. This time around, a 72 in tough, windy conditions on the Costa del Sol leave Fasth with a one stroke lead going into the final round.
His eight under par total of 352 is one better than Scotland’s Alastair Forsyth, the first and fourth round leader who carded a 75 to lie second on 353 with long-serving European Tour player, Malcolm Mackenzie, on 354 after a round of 75.
Fasth, who picked up three shots over the first 12 holes to move to 11 under par for the tournament, admitted: “I feel disappointed to drop back to eight under, but at least I gained ground.
“It would make me very happy to win the Qualifying School for a second time. I was two or three behind going into the last round in 1996 and came out on top. Hopefully I can stay in this position.”
Forsyth had two double bogeys in his front nine, but played the last ten holes in level par to shoot 75. Afterwards, the strapping 23 year old from Paisley revealed he had joined the Cuemasters team, run by snooker supremo, Ian Doyle. Forsyth joins Dean Robertson as the only golfers in that high-powered stable.
He explained: “I’m very pleased to join Cuemasters. Ian Doyle has a great name in sports management and this should give me some security. At this stage of my career I need that.”
Mackenzie, approaching two decades as a professional, maintained his progress in a bid to stay on Tour, while Irishman Gary Murphy from Kilkenny shot a 70 to move into fourth place, just three behind Fasth.
Four players share fifth place – Tom Gillis of America, Robert Coles of England, Belgium's Nicolas Vanhootegem and 1998 Open Chamionship sensation, Justin Rose.
Rose, who was unsuccessful in his bid to gain his card last year, shot a level par 72 for 356, thanks to a holed bunker shot for an eagle at the ninth and a 20 foot putt for a birdie at the last.
He said: “When I holed my bunker shot it turned an average round into a good one. My goal every day has been to keep climbing up the leaderboard and that is the goal again tomorrow. The better the finish the better the card.”
European Tour regulars Roger Chapman and Steve Richardson stayed on track to reclaim their playing rights. Chapman’s 71 for 359 left him in a tie for 11th place while Richardson shares 13th position after a round of 73. Also in contention is past PGA champion, Paul Way, in a tie for 25th, with cards going to the leading 35 and ties.