An excellent front nine helped Scotland’s Peter Whiteford join David Horsey in a share of the lead heading into the final round of the M2M Russian Open at Tseleevo Golf & Polo Club.
Whiteford, seeking a first European Tour victory after a couple of runner-up finishes, birdied five of his first six holes in glorious Moscow sunshine en route to a third round 66 and 13 under par total.
A missed putt from close range at the seventh cost the 33 year old a bogey, but he holed out from a bunker at the next for an eagle three as he turned in a six under 30.
“I had an amazing start,” said Whiteford. “I holed a bunker shot on the first and then chipped in on the third. Dave (Horsey) chipped in as well – he stole some of my glory there!
“I got off to a flyer and then the back nine I was just hanging on for dear life. The swing didn’t feel great at all to be honest.
“I’m hoping I wake up tomorrow with a better swing. I had a lot of good luck today.
On the 15th I hit my tee shot straight into the forest – it’s a tricky shot straight into the wind from an elevated tee which is never going to add up to much fun - but it bounced back out onto the fairway.
“Hopefully I haven’t used up all my luck, but I certainly used a big chunk there.
“It hasn’t been the best season this year. It’s been pretty brutal really. I’m not confident at all but that front nine today helps massively and I’m glad Dave and I have put a bit of breathing space between us and the next guys. It might be a bit like match play on the front nine tomorrow.”
England’s Horsey had initially extended his overnight lead with birdies at the first and third, but was unable to keep pace with Whiteford’s charge and slipped from the top of the leaderboard with a bogey at the ninth after finding rough right of the green with his approach.
Horsey turned things in his favour with consecutive gains to start the back nine, and with Whiteford bogeying the tenth the Englishman was back to where he started the day at two clear.
However, after a bogey at the 13th, Horsey paid the price for a clumsy chip at the 15th, both players taking advantage of the long 17th as the two-time European Tour winner carded a 70.
“Pete started like a train and I was just trying to tell myself to concentrate on my own game,” said Horsey.
“It wasn’t that easy out there today and I certainly didn’t see a five or six under through nine holes.
“I just kept reminding myself to stay patient and concentrate on my own game, not what Pete was doing. I was disappointed not to birdie the eighth and then bogey the ninth – three under at the turn would have been nice. But then I birdied the tenth and 11th and tried to get back to the thought process that I’ve had the first two days.
“I didn’t quite maintain it that well on the back nine, but I kept myself in there and hopefully it’ll be a little better tomorrow.”
Italy’s Andrea Pavan shot a best-of-the-week 64 to share third place with Scotland’s Scott Jamieson and Belgian rookie Thomas Pieters on nine under par.