Lukas Nemecz stood firm to post a four under par round of 68 to take a four-stroke lead into the final day of the Hopps Open de Provence.
The Austrian had a nervous start to his third round with two bogeys on his card early, his only dropped shots of the week, before recovering with four birdies and an eagle to move clear of two-time European Challenge Tour winner Marcel Schneider and French duo Ugo Coussaud and Julien Brun, who share second place at Golf International de Pont Royal.
The 32-year-old was delighted to bounce back after his poor start, adding that remaining positive and aggressive in his approach play was vital to maintain his momentum.
“I had a very bad start,” he said. “I hit my tee shot left on the first and then found the bunker from there and left my putt short. I made a bogey on three after a plugged lie in the fairway bunker but these things happen because it’s a tough course. I knew I would eventually make some bogeys but luckily I stayed aggressive and I trusted myself and from then on I played really well.
“I think the key to getting back on track was to not hold back. I had to keep on the front foot and play aggressive. The fourth is a tight drive and hitting driver well there gave me confidence. I know I have been playing well and luckily I found some birdies again."
Nemecz eagled the 14th for the second consecutive day but is under no illusions at the size of the task ahead of him tomorrow as he looks to secure a maiden Challenge Tour title.
“My long game is very good at the moment so I am taking advantage of the par fives, that has been vital this week for me.
“It’s going to take a lot of hard work to win, a lot of patience and I will have to recover after today’s round because it was a long grind, especially after getting off to a poor start. A four-shot lead is nice but on a course like this, it can go very quickly as I saw this morning.”
Sweden’s Jesper Kennegard sits in solo fifth on 13 under par after carding an eight under par round of 64, while Englishman Alfie Plant sits in sixth place on 12 under par.
The final round of the Hopps Open de Provence will begin at 7:40am local time, with Nemecz teeing it up in the final group alongside Brun and Coussaud at 11:40am.