Daniel Brooks overcame a shaky start to hold a one shot lead going into the final round of the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open.
The 28 year old held a three shot halfway lead, but saw that eradicated before he reached the second tee after driving right into thick rough and needing two attempts to chop out on the opening hole en route to a double bogey six.
A nerve-settling birdie at the fifth got last year’s Madeira Islands Open winner back on track, and he had further gains from close range on the eighth and ninth after some wonderful iron play.
There were still some errant drives, but the Englishman scrambled wonderfully after dropping a shot on the tenth.
Brooks found the 16th green in two and two putted for a fourth birdie, a one under par 69 and a 12 under aggregate.
That was one ahead of France’s Raphaël Jacquelin, who compiled a best of the day 64, with America’s World Number Nine Rickie Fowler part of the group tied for third on nine under.
An eagle on the 16th gave Fowler a 66 and left him alongside Dutchman Joost Luiten and England’s Tommy Fleetwood.
Brooks missed 14 consecutive cuts after winning in Madeira, and had failed to reach the weekend in 13 events running this term before ending that run in France last week when he was tied for 20th.
"It's good to get off to a bad start and hold it together," said Brooks.
"It was playing tough and cold in the wind so it was nice to carry on the way I have been playing. I hit a lot of poor shots today but scrambled and putted well.
"It would be amazing to win, that's what we play for.
"It's the biggest day of my career but I am trying not to think about it. The main priority is to keep my card because I have been struggling all year."
Jacquelin, who won a record nine-hole play-off to claim his last European Tour title in the Open de España, had missed the cut in five straight events until finishing 23rd on home soil in Paris last week.
"It's been hard," the 40 year old said. "The last three months is really difficult, especially for me. Normally I make quite a lot of cuts and play pretty solid off the tee and I hit a lot of greens.
"So it's been tough but it's my 20th season on Tour, so I've been lucky, never lost my card. So I can't really complain, even if the last three months were difficult. It's part of the game.
"The game of golf, it's getting really difficult. The level of the players is getting high. So as soon as you're not 100 per cent, you're not going to play the weekend. That's part of it. That's why we keep working hard and practising like I did, to be in that position I will be in tomorrow."
The last four Open Champions have played in the Scottish Open the week before lifting the Claret Jug, a streak Fowler would love to keep going after finishing in the top five in all four Majors last year.
"The big key is preparation for next week," Fowler said. "Not just playing the week before but also playing on a links golf course and having the opportunity to be in contention, it's only going to help me for next week.
"Last year I finished eighth here and then went on to have a good week at The Open. So I am looking forward to tomorrow and having a chance at winning this thing down the stretch and putting myself in a position to go play well next week as well."