Magnus P Atlevi will take a one shot lead into the final round of the European Senior Tour Qualifying School Final Stage as breezy conditions made for difficult third round scoring at Pestana Golf Resort’s Vale da Pinta course.
The Swede shot a three over par round of 74 to sit on five under par heading into the final 18 holes tomorrow, after which the top five players will earn Senior Tour cards for the 2016 season, with a play-off for the fifth card if necessary.
The 50 year old was not alone in struggling in the wind – only eight players managed to break par – but he knows he is in a strong position heading into the last day.
Whether I'm leading or not, it's all about when the tournament is done - it matters absolutely nothing right now, it's all about tomorrow
“It was difficult today,” he said. “It’s a two club wind and that makes a big difference on this course because you’re hitting uphill and downhill on uneven lies, and this wind is so much more difficult to get near the pin.
“Making par is good on days like this, so it’s completely different, and I just had a poor finish. I would have been pleased with one over par but then I three putted the last two greens so I’m feeling a bit sick right now.
“I’ve been putting beautifully the first two days but today I missed a few, which is a shame, but it’s all part of the game.
“I’m leading and, even though it’s not quite what I was hoping for, it’s better than being behind. The way I try to see it, whether I’m leading or not – and it’s great if I’m leading – it’s all about when the tournament is done. It matters absolutely nothing right now, it’s all about tomorrow.”
Hot on Atlevi’s heels on four under par are American Chris Hunsucker and England’s Gary Marks, with only three other players – Jimmy Carter of America, Canadian Ken Tarling, the winner here 12 months ago, and Ireland’s Brendan McGovern – under par after 54 holes.
The best round of the day came from English amateur Brad Smith, whose three under par round of 68 moved him into the top ten on one over par, though the 50 year old was unsure he would even be able to tee up his third round.
“To be honest I’m quite fortunate to be here because yesterday I couldn’t stand up,” he said. “I couldn’t bend down to read putts and I struggled on the greens – it’s ok swinging, it’s just when you bend down. I came in and saw the physio, took some painkillers and here we are today.
“I actually thought I had eight birdies but it turns out it was seven. On the 11th, my second hole, I knocked it onto a path which we thought was an artificial path, so I played two balls and made a four with the one from the path and three with the dropped ball but had to card the four.
“I think if I can shoot something like that tomorrow, or maybe slightly better, that shot on 11 could well cost me.
“It’s taken me a little while to settle down. I was a professional but got my amateur status back about 20 years ago, in 1995, so I haven’t played in a professional event for 20-odd years – I’m quite pleased really, it was a good performance today.”The cut was made at the end of the third round, with players within eight shots of fifth place earning spots in the final round. 34 players were inside the mark at six over par or better.