Sweden’s Henrik Nystrom maintained his two shot lead at the dual ranking Aa St Omer Open after a third round of three under par 68 took him to 11 under 202 and into a two stroke lead over South African Martin Maritz.
Nystrom was required to stay patient for the first half of his third round but got moving as he reached the turn, birdieing the par four ninth hole to pick up his first stroke of the day, just as Maritz, along with third placed Shaun Webster of England and fourth placed Klas Eriksson of Sweden, Miko Ilonen of Finland and the Scot, Raymond Russell, began to close the gap on him.
All of those aforementioned players are very much in the hunt, with Webster, who won the Aa St Omer Open in 1998 when it was part of the Third Level Hippo Tour, moving to eight under for the week after a third round of 66, and Eriksson, Ilonen and Russell reaching seven under with respective scores of 68, 66 and 66.
Nystrom intends to enjoy his final round at the Aa St Omer Golf Club, and insists that, despite the pressure of having to close out a maiden European Tour victory that would guarantee his Tour card for the next 18 months, he will enjoy the final round pressure.
“There is a lot at stake,” confirmed the 37 year old, “but I will play well and have fun tomorrow and we’ll see if it’s good enough. It’s going to be fun. I need to be patient and try to enjoy it. There are so many opportunities to make birdies out there and at the end of the day the best man will win.
“It’s a lot of fun and this is what you practice for – to be in contention on the last day and it feels great to be there. I have very good chance I would say.”
Maritz is delighted to be back contending in Europe after suffering an unlikely dip in form over the past year and a half. The towering South African, whose six foot five inch frame makes him hard to miss on the undulating fairways of St Omer, matched the 66s of Webster and Russell to move to within two strokes of Nystrom.
He said: “I am just going to enjoy today and then wake up tomorrow and see what happens. I haven’t been playing well for the last 18 months so I am just thrilled to be have put two good rounds together.
“I don’t really know why I lost the form. This is my sixth year as a pro and up until last year I had improved in every one of those years. Then last year, when I thought I was going to have my best year yet, I didn’t do well and I think that I maybe put a bit too much pressure on myself. It could be the greatest thing that ever happens to me. Whatever doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger and I have learned a lot through it. Hopefully I can come through it a better player.”