Lucas Bjerregaard made a nerveless start in his bid to win a first European Tour title as a birdie at the first doubled his overnight lead at the Portugal Masters.
The Dane has missed only five cuts this season but a lack of big finishes have left him 114th on the Race to Dubai Rankings presented by Rolex and needing a strong end to the campaign to retain his playing privileges.
Rounds of 66-65-68 put him a shot clear going into the final round in Vilamoura, and the 26 year old holed a ten foot birdie effort on the first to reach 15 under at Dom Pedro Victoria Golf Course.
That was two clear of the chasing pack, with playing partner George Coetzee making par on the first two holes and being joined by Spain’s Nacho Elvira, England’s Graeme Storm, Scotland’s Marc Warren and China’s Ashun Wu.
Birdies were once more the order of the day, with Warren holing from 20 feet at the first and Storm – who thought he had lost his card after this event last year only to be given a late reprieve when Patrick Reed failed to play his minimum number of tournaments – converting from similar distance at the third.
South African Richard Sterne was on course to set the clubhouse target, with five birdies taking him to 12 under with two to play.
Warren – another scrapping for his European Tour future - holed a putt from the fringe on the third to move within one of the lead, and he was joined in second when Wu tapped in at the fifth for his third birdie of the day.
Wu immediately dropped back to 13 under when he failed to get up and down from the front of the sixth green, with Coetzee leapfrogging him with a birdie from 30 feet at the fourth - although Bjerregaard followed him in after a lovely pitch to eight feet to go two clear once more.
There appeared to be no chinks in Bjerregaard’s armour as he got down in two from a bunker at the par five fifth to establish a three shot lead on 17 under.