Dane Joachim B Hansen is one step closer to being crowned the 2012 European Challenge Tour Number One after a four under par 67 in the third round of the Apulia San Domenico Grand Final gave him a two shot lead.
Hansen entered the season’s final tournament guaranteed a European Tour card for next season as he lay in eighth place in the Rankings, but victory at San Domenico Golfcould send him past current leader Kristoffer Broberg, who has won four times this season.
He took a huge step towards realising that dream after a round which included five birdies and one bogey. At 17 under par he leads by two from Norwegian Espen Kofstad and by three from Italian Marco Crespi and Eduardo de la Riva. All three signed for rounds of 67.
Twice a runner-up on the Challenge Tour this year, the 22 year old has carded some incredible scores during a purple patch of late, recording four rounds of 64 or fewer in his last five tournaments.
Now, as he looks to emulate compatriot Thomas Björn by becoming the Challenge Tour’s Number One, Hansen is determined to push home his advantage.
“It’s a really nice position to be in going into the final day,” he said. “I’m loving it. It’s going to be a lot of fun tomorrow.
“It would be so nice to top the Rankings. I didn’t think I would have had a chance to be topping the Rankings when I began at the start of this year.
“The key has just been my swing, which has improved so much this year, and the putting has been really good in the last three months. Everything has just got a little bit better and now I can compete with the top guys.
“Those low rounds I have been shooting have been down to the putting. I had 22 putts in my second round here so that tells its own story. When I put it on the green I’m just holing most of the putts.
“I would love to win this tournament. I have come so close this year that I really want to win now and this one would be a great one to win.”
“It was a day today that did not get going,” he said of his round. “I made a lot of pars and didn’t hit as many fairways as I did the previous day so I am going to go out on the range and get rid of the hook I had today.
“I think I am taking my body out of the ball at the point of impact so I just need to work on that and hopefully I can improve tomorrow.”
Kofstad is the main protagonist chasing down Hansen’s lead after also signing for a four under par 67 to stay in second place.
The 25 year old is relishing the opportunity to relive the battle which took place not far from the southern Italy venue this week at the Doubletree by Hilton Acaya Open, where Kofstad emerged victorious when Hansen bogeyed the last hole.
“Tomorrow will be an exciting day,” he said. “I get on with JB very well so I’m sure we’ll have some fun out there. He is playing great, as he has been for a few months now, so it will be hard to beat him, but I will do my best and hope the putts drop.
“I was one shot ahead when I won the title in Acaya, so it’s a different experience to be chasing in the final round. I will have to stay patient and not get too aggressive. I’ve secured my card for next year but I want to make the top ten, so it’s important that I finish well tomorrow.”
James Busby, meanwhile, retained hopes of a victory that would move him from 45th position in the Rankings – the last man to qualify for the event – to inside the top 21 after the Englishman eagled the par four third hole en route to a 66 which left him in fifth spot on 13 under.