Michael Hoey put himself in pole position for a fifth European Tour title as his scintillating return to form gathered pace at the M2M Russian Open.
The Northern Irishman - a four-time European Tour winner - had not finished better than 25th on The European Tour this season and missed seven of his last ten cuts coming into the event.
Opening rounds of 70 and 67 had left him one behind at the halfway stage, with the 34 year old talking of his need to cut out the mistakes from his game in order to challenge over the weekend.
And he did that in style, carding six birdies, one bogey and an eagle at the par five eighth in a best-of the-week 65 at Tseleevo Golf & Polo Club.
The seven under par round left Hoey, whose last success came at last year’s Trophée Hassan II, a 14 under par total and five shot lead with one round remaining.
“It was one of those days where everything went my way for the most part. I played really well and was swinging the club well, but I got a few breaks here and there that really helped the score,” said Hoey.
“I holed a 70 foot putt on the ninth for example – that was probably the biggest break I had out there. You just don’t really expect to hole those ones so that was a bit of a bonus.
“I started with a great birdie on the first to really set the tone. I hit a great eight iron in there to about five feet and then I had that great run around the turn. I holed out from off the green on the seventh and then the eagle on eight was nice. I hit driver then three iron to eight feet there.
“It was just going my way as I said. I made the monster putt on nine and then stiffed it on ten for another birdie. The only blip of the day was on 11 but I did have a lot go my way too.
“I am making a lot of putts this week and that is always the difference at this level. It’s all about putting.
“Obviously I have a good lead but you just can’t take it for granted. Things went my way today but it might be someone else’s day tomorrow. I am just going to go out there and try to enjoy it. I have been in positions to win before and finished it off and that will help a bit, but you still need to hit the shots and hole the putts.”
Halfway leader Rikard Karlberg and England’s Matthew Nixon are tied for second on nine under, the former recovering from four early dropped shots to post a level par 72 while Nixon carded a blemish-free 68.