Swede Christian Nilsson will take a four shot lead into the final round of the SAINT-OMER Open presented by Neuflize OBC following a sparkling 65 on day three at Aa St Omer Golf Club.
Nilsson, who started the day two shots behind overnight leader Wade Ormsby of Australia, carded five birdies and an eagle to move clear of the field, with his only dropped shot coming at the par four 12th hole.
His sensational round moved him to 11 under par, with England’s James Morrison his nearest challenger on seven under after he signed for a third round of 70.
Speaking afterwards, a smiling Nilsson said: “Today’s round was very satisfying, especially on the front nine. I got off to a good rhythm from the start, and just carried it on.
“The key was probably my putting. I’ve putted well all week really, but today nearly everything I hit dropped in the hole.”
Nilsson finished runner-up in this event last year, and when asked why he liked the course, he replied: “I don't know...I just do! You have to be accurate off the tee, which I’ve managed to do; and you also need to think a bit more about your tee shots, because you can’t just pull your driver out your bag every time.
“You also have to think a lot about your approach shots, because the pin positions are quite tricky. So it makes it a lot of fun to play.
“I think I’ve led once before going into the final day, but never by this much,” he admitted. “So it’s going to be a tough day tomorrow, but I’m also looking forward to it.
“I'll just prepare the same way I have done, by going back to the hotel, having some dinner, trying to relax, and basically trying not to think about golf!”
Morrison was also in relaxed mood after a final hole birdie moved him one shot closer to Nilsson, and extended his advantage over the remainder of the field to three shots.
The young Englishman said: “I was pleased with my birdie-par-birdie finish. I was particularly pleased with the par putt on the 17th, because the pin position was really tough. Then the birdie on the last will make the beer taste that bit sweeter tonight.
“I think I’ve earned it, because it was a tough day again, though it wasn’t as windy as the first two days. So the key again was patience, and I probably played just as well as I did on the first two days. But I had a few birdie chances in the middle of the round which I didn’t capitalise on, so it was just a case of trying to hang in there, and I felt I did that.
“I’ve played with Christian before, so I know what to expect. He’s a very good ball striker, and he played very well again today. He got off to a flying start, but in a funny kind of way it was good for him do that, because it meant I had a target to work towards and try to close down.
“Obviously I would’ve preferred him not go quite so far ahead, but I just tried to hang onto his coat-tails as best I could. At least the birdie on the last pegged him back and closed the gap. Even though I’m four shots behind him I’m also three shots ahead of third place, so it’s still a great position to be in.”
Ormsby, meanwhile, is one of four players tied for third place on four under place. The Australian shot 65 in the second round but could not manage a birdie today, and three bogeys on the back nine saw him card a 74.
Fredrik Andersson Hed and José-Filipe Lima are also on four under par, along with Sion E Bebb, who recorded six birdies in a round of 67.
Lorenzo Gagli is one of five players a shot further back. The 23 year old Italian eventually finished with a score of 68 after surging up the leaderboard with eight birdies in his first 13 holes.
Gagli is joined on three under par by Sweden’s Åke Nilsson, Australian Matthew Millar and the English duo of Simon Wakefield and Adam Gee.