Joel Sjoholm gestures to a swan (Getty Images)
Joel Sjöholm was happy with a level par 72 that kept him firmly in the hunt for a maiden European Tour title at the BMW International Open.
The 27 year old from Sweden began the day two shots clear in Cologne, but four bogeys on the way out contributed to a front nine 38.
In danger of fading into the pack at that point, Sjöholm birdied the 13th and 15th before producing a wonderful flop shot from rough by the 18th to rescue par and finish the day 11 under par, one behind England’s Danny Willett.
“I really did not expect to feel a little bit of tension, because I've been leading tournaments before as an amateur but never as a pro, so I thought it would be the same, and it isn't really the same,” said Sjöholm.
“I held my nerves pretty well through the first five, six holes and then I got a little bit angry with my ball on the sixth, but that's me in general. It doesn't matter if I'm leading a tournament or not, it's just who I am. Today it feels good to actually walk off the course with an even par score when I was plus two.
“I was in danger of a terrible finish, and instead I actually made two good pars out of nowhere.
“So it feels good, and I'm real excited for tomorrow. It's going to be a really, really great day because I really love this place.”
Sjöholm is alongside England’s Chris Wood in second place, and the 24 year old is pleased to have the opportunity chase a leader in the final round after failing to convert a four shot third round lead in Mallorca last year – one of three runner-up finishes in Wood’s European Tour career.
“It's so easy to get ahead of yourself,” said Wood. “It's a bit of a test, but on a day like today, it probably helped because it was a day where you just had to be patient and it was tough conditions, and not so many birdies out there as there were on day one, so I was pleased.
“A shot behind is as good as I need to be really tomorrow. I'm not sleeping on the lead, and I feel really good.”