Stuart Manley (Getty Images)
Stuart Manley will take a one shot lead into the final round of the Hong Kong Open as the Qualifying School graduate chases his first European Tour title.
The Welshman fired a four under par 66 on day three at Hong Kong Golf Club to reach ten under par, a stroke ahead of Australian Wade Ormsby and India’s Shiv Kapur.
Manley, whose best finish on The European Tour came when he was ninth in Mallorca in 2010, made headlines last month when he followed a hole-in-one at the ISPS HANDA World Cup of Golf with an 11 on the next hole.
On that occasion Manley thought he had won a car for his ace, but was then informed that the prize was only available during the final round.
And the 34 year old had another near miss today when his tee shot at the eighth finished millimetres from the cup for one of six birdies.
“I wanted to be last group so I’m delighted,” said Manley. “I’ve led quite a few times on the Challenge Tour so hopefully that will put me in good stead for tomorrow.
“There will be a few nerves early on I think but I’m swinging so well that if I can be committed to the golf shot I’ll be fine and just enjoy it.
“Pretty much from the first hole onwards, every iron shot was right down the pin.
“If it had been a good day on the greens it could have been a really low round, so it was disappointing not to capitalise, but I feel very confident the way I'm playing and I’m really excited about tomorrow.
“Winning would mean the world really. Obviously there is a lot of golf to go and I’ve just got to enjoy tomorrow and see what happens. To be a winner on The European Tour would be great.”
Ormsby and Kapur are also yet to win on The European Tour, and both also carded rounds of 66.
Like Manley, Ormsby came through the six-round marathon at PGA Catalunya to regain his card and said: “My game feels good, I made a lot of birdies out there and overall I'm pretty happy.”
Kapur is back on The European Tour after a successful season in which he won twice on the Challenge Tour in 2013, and the 31 year old is keen to use the experience of his recent victories in the final round.
“If you can keep the mistakes off the card round here you’ll usually challenge, and I’ve been able to do that,” he said.
“Whether it’s the Challenge Tour or the main Tour winning is always hard.
“For me winning recently in the last couple of months has been good and I know what to expect tomorrow. Sometimes you can make a couple of mistakes and still win a tournament and I think that’s been the biggest realisation for me in the last couple of months.”
While the top three are all chasing a first success, the three players tied for fourth all know what it takes to win – and two of them have done so in this event.
Defending champion Miguel Angel Jiménez, his fellow Spaniard and the 2007 winner José Manuel Lara and England’s Steve Webster all shot rounds of 65 to reach eight under.
Jiménez became the oldest winner in European Tour history when he triumphed here last year, and he added: “I hope I can keep hitting the ball the way I'm hitting it and knock in some putts to get the victory here, I would love it. I love this golf course.”