Carlos Aguilar will take a slender lead into the final round of the ALLIANZ Côtes d’Armor Bretagne, where he is bidding to secure his debut Challenge Tour title.
Aguilar has won twice in a ten year professional career, on the domestic Tour in his native Spain and the Satellite EPD Tour, but victory in this week’s €160,000 tournament would surpass all his previous achievements.
After a level par round of 70 the 29 year old from Alicante remained on five under par, two strokes clear of Denmark’s Jeppe Huldahl, whose 67 was one of only two sub-par scores on a windswept third day in the Bretagne region of northern France.
In contrast to the second round, when he racked up four successive birdies, Aguilar struggled on the front nine at Golf Blue Green de Pléneuf Val André, turning in 36 to relinquish his overnight lead.
But the back nine was a different story for the Spaniard, who notched three birdies in four holes from the ninth. A dropped shot at the 15th hole was cancelled out by a gain at the 17th, but a three-putt bogey on the last green gave Huldahl hope of overturning Aguilar’s advantage.
Aguilar said: “Both putts on the 18th were a misread, as I thought they would break from the right. But overall I’ve got no complaints, because it was a tough day and I coped quite well. The long shots were quite difficult to judge, because the wind was stronger than yesterday and from a different direction, and it was also cooler. But hopefully the weather tomorrow will be better.
“I will have to play my best to have a chance to win, because the standard on the Challenge Tour is very high. But I can’t worry about what anyone else is doing – I just have to play my own game. I had some nice messages from friends and family after my round yesterday and I’m sure I’ll have some more today, so hopefully I can make them happy. But it doesn’t depend on them – it’s all down to me now.”
The lowest score of the day was compiled by Huldahl who, despite the tricky cross-winds, carded just a solitary bogey in his three under par round of 67.
The Dane is a European Tour champion, and will return to the scene of his win when he competes at the ISPS Handa Wales Open at the end of the month. But his focus this season will be predominantly on the Challenge Tour, as he bids to secure a swift return to the top tier having relinquished his card last term.
Huldahl blamed poor putting and a wayward driver for his 158th place finish in The 2011 Race to Dubai, but his all-round game was in great shape as he collected four birdies to climb 14 places up the leaderboard from his overnight position of tied 15th.
The 29 year old from Copenhagen will now go in search of his second Challenge Tour title, having won the 2008 Lexus Open en route to finishing tenth in the Challenge Tour Rankings.
He said: “The wind changed direction today, so all the tricky holes were playing into the wind. But I held it together nicely, and managed to keep it in play for the whole round except for the sixth hole, where I found the rough off the tee and didn’t manage to get up and down. But one bogey in those conditions is pretty good going.
“It’s a good position to be in going into the final day, and I’m probably one of the more experienced players this week so hopefully I can use that to my advantage. Obviously last year I was disappointed to lose my card, but I used the long off-season to put in some practice, and I feel much better about my game now.”