Kristoffer Broberg is in pole position to claim his third Challenge Tour victory – and with it instant promotion to The European Tour – after opening up a three-shot lead on the third day of the Rolex Trophy.
The Swede won both the Finnish Challenge and the Norwegian Challenge at the start of the month and, after finishing in a tie for third place in Denmark last week, is set to secure elevation to the top tier in sensationally swift style.
The Rolex Trophy is only Broberg’s fifth Challenge Tour appearance of the season and – barring an unlikely final day collapse – also seems set to be his last, as he will join his close friend Alex Noren on The European Tour by claiming the €24,400 winner’s cheque.
Having opened with rounds of 63 and 66 at Golf Club de Genève, Broberg added a 64 on the third day of the elite 42-man event to move to 23 under par, three shots clear of Denmark’s Joachim B Hansen and Korean Sihwan Kim.
Broberg started with a bogey – his first of the week – but rallied with five birdies on his front nine, before racing home in 32 blows to continue his truly spectacular run of recent form.
Broberg said: “That was definitely the best I’ve played all week, I hit a lot of good shots and holed a lot of putts. Obviously it was disappointing to start with a bogey and finish with another one on the last, but in between times I was very solid. My confidence is obviously very high at the moment, so even if I make a mistake I know I can get it back on the next hole. Hopefully I can get to 30 under par tomorrow – that would be a very special way to win the tournament!”
Despite battling fatigue, Kim is firmly in contention to capture his debut Challenge Tour title after moving to 20 under par courtesy of a flawless round of 66. The Korean, who has dropped just one shot over the three days, is hoping that adrenaline will help get him over the line after his body started to “shut down” towards the end of his third round.
This is Kim’s sixth successive competitive appearance, and the 23 year old is looking forward to returning to Seoul, in his native South Korea, for some rest and relaxation ahead of the biggest regular tournament of the season, the Kazakhstan Open. Before then, however, Kim has a job to do, and after notching six birdies in another impressive display he will be hopeful of signing off with another strong showing, after he finished in a tie for fifth place in Denmark last week.
He said: “I’m not sure how I managed to shoot under par today, because my body started to shut down after six weeks on the road. It happened to me the last time I spent six weeks way, so I know I’m almost at the end of my limit. Hopefully the pressure and buzz of the final day will get my body hyped up, because I felt really sluggish towards the end of my round.
“I need to rest up well tonight, and hopefully I’ll feel ready to go in the morning. I’ve already been in contention a couple of times this season, so hopefully I can finish it off this time. Last time it St Omer it didn’t go so well, but I wasn’t playing nearly as well as I have this week. I’m not saying I fluked it, but I was probably slightly fortunate to be in the position I was. But this week I’ve definitely earned the right to be up near the top of the leaderboard, because I’ve been playing very well.”
Hansen was disappointed with his putting performance in his round of 66, but the Dane again kept the bogeys off his card with another flawless performance from tee to green. The 22 year old, currently 26th in the Rankings, is in fine form, but knows he will have to perform better on the greens to stand any chance of overhauling Broberg at the top of the leaderbaord.
He said: “I’m a little disappointed with my putting, because I gave myself so many birdie chances. But hopefully I can take a few more of them tomorrow. I was in a similar position going into the final day last week and was unable to finish it off, but I’ve learned from that and I hope tomorrow will be different. It’s good that we’re playing with amateurs because that helps you to relax, so I’m looking forward to it.”
Earlier in the day, Daniel Vancsik posted a round of 64 which included a run of five successive birdies. The Argentine, who started on the tenth tee, had looked on course to match the course record-equalling round of 62 with which he opened the €220,000 event, only to run up a bogey for the second successive day on the par five eighth – which is statistically one of the easiest holes.
But after closing with his ninth birdie of the day, Vancsik – whose replacement driver eventually arrived in Geneva on Thursday – had to settle for a 64 and a 19 under par aggregate total.
Under the watchful eye of his father, Wally – Chairman and Chief Executive of Acushnet, the parent company behind Titleist – American Peter Uihlein got his third round off to a slow start, dropping a shot at his second hole, the 11th, for his first bogey of the week.
But he promptly rallied with birdies at the 13th and 14th holes, and made a morale-boosting par on the 16th after hitting his approach into the water, taking a drop and promptly holing his fourth shot with a wedge. Another birdie at the 17th hole swiftly followed, and after notching four more gains on his back nine, the former US Amateur Champion was signing for a round of 66 and an 18 under par aggregate total.
The lowest round of the day was carded by England’s Chris Lloyd, who equalled the course record with a stunning 62 to move to 16 under par, one shot behind his compatriot Gary Lockerbie, the current Rankings leader.