Argentina's Ricardo Gonzalez, winner of the Telefonica Open de Madrid last October, fixed his sights on a Spanish double after shooting a third round 69 to take a one stroke lead into the final round of the Open de Sevilla at Real Club de Golf de Sevilla.
The 34 year old from Corrientes, who also claimed the Omega European Masters in 2001, had five birdies and two bogeys in his round to climb to the top of the leaderboard with an 11 under par total of 205, one stroke in front of Italy’s Emanuele Canonica (70) and Scotland’s Alan McLean (68) with a total of five players sharing fourth on 208.
On a day of swirling winds in Seville, Gonzalez hit only one fairway out of 14 but still managed to fix his sights on a third European Tour title, taking over the lead from compatriot Cesar Monasterio, as the 40 year old second round leader shot a 76 to slip six strokes off the pace.
"I'm embarrassed at my driving but I'm obstinate and kept on trying to hit the driver," said Gonzalez. "That's because I knew I was hitting the ball on the right all the time and on the right there isn't much trouble."
The conditions meant it proved difficult to keep a bogey off the card, but McLean, born in Clydebank near Glasgow but raised in South Africa, minimized his share to just two dropped shots to set alongside six birdies in his fine round of 68 to move within a shot of Gonzalez.
Meanwhile Canonica, who has twice finished second on The European Tour International Schedule, stepped up his bid to become an overdue first time winner with four birdies and two bogeys in a round of 70.
Scotland’s Steven O’Hara, a member of Breat Britain and Ireland’s winning Walker Cup team in 2001, did manage to show what was possible in the tricky winds. The 23 year old from Motherwell plucked five birdies and an eagle from the Real Club de Golf course to charge from tied 51st to a share of ninth place.
O'Hara, who missed out on a card at the 2002 Qualifying School Finals but succeeded in 2003, was delighted to make his presence felt - and gave the credit to sports psychologist, John Pates. "I had an hour with him on the range yesterday," he said. "I used to think it was a lot of nonsense, to be honest, but it's not. It's very important.
"There's no reason why you should not spend as much time on the mental side as you do practising."