Ross McGowan put himself into a strong position to claim his first win on The European Tour after shooting a seven under par 65 to join English compatriot John Bickerton in a tie for top spot in the third round of the Johnnie Walker Classic.
The 26 year old, whose best previous result on The European Tour was fifth at the Alfred Dunhill Championship in late 2007, fired seven birdies to improve to 14 under at The Vines Resort and Country Club.
McGowan, the 2006 English Amateur champion, began the day on seven under, three shots behind overnight co-leaders Damien McGrane of Ireland and Anthony Kang of the United States, and was out in 34 after birdies on the sixth and ninth.
He picked up five more on the back nine including back to back birdies on the last two holes to finish his day with a share of the lead.
Bickerton was eight under after two rounds and parred his first six holes today before rolling in a 12 foot putt for his first birdie of the day on the seventh.
It helped to ignite the 39 year old who birdied six of the last 12 holes for a six under 66 that put him in contention for his first Tour win since 2007.
The English pair will enter the final round of the event with a two stroke advantage over a group of four players on 12 under that includes Raphael Jacquelin of France (66), Chile’s Felipe Aguilar (68), Australian Terry Pilkadaris (68) and New Zealand Amateur Danny Lee (69).
Spain’s Ignacio Garrido bogeyed his final hole to card a 70 which dropped him into a tie for seventh on 11 under with Korea’s Bae Sang-Moon (65), Australian Michael Sim (67), Dutchman Robert-Jan Derksen (69) and Hiroyuki Fujita of Japan (70).
Ireland’s Peter Lawrie had a share of the lead midway through the round but a double bogey on the 16th saw him finish with a 69 as he joined Irish compatriot McGrane (72), Ulsterman Gareth Maybin (68) and three others on ten under.
Lee Westwood is in contention on nine under after carding a 68 that included an eagle, five birdies and a double bogey while Colin Montgomerie is seven under after a level par 72.
Anthony Kim’s hopes of mounting a challenge suffered a severe setback when the World Number 11 became the second player in two days after Westwood to play a quadruple bogey nine on the par five third during his round of 75 that put him on five under.