Overnight leader Jason Palmer will take a one shot advantage into the final round of the Foshan Open after four birdies and a bogey saw him post a 69 on a typically humid afternoon in Southern China.
The 30 year old Englishman handled the pressure cooker with aplomb to climb to 13 under par, a score which means he has held at least a share of the lead at the end of all three days so far at Foshan Golf Club.
His nearest challenger will be Germany’s Bernd Ritthammer on his own in second place, while the English duo of Jason Barnes and Chris Hanson are a stroke further adrift at 11 under par, with all of the top four chasing a maiden European Challenge Tour title on Sunday.
As for Palmer, he credits his precise approach play to the undulating greens as the key to his success, a strategy that he will aim to implement on the final day too as he looks to rubber stamp a career-changing victory.
“It is not easy sleeping on the lead and I have had to do it two days running now, so hopefully I ‘m used to that going into tomorrow,” said Palmer, who also admitted to having been for dinner at McDonalds the past two nights. “You’ve got to hit the fairways because as soon as you miss you have no control out of the Bermuda rough, and then you have to hit the greens in the right places.
“I’ve said it before, but the greens here this week are fantastic, so if you can find them and you hit a good putt, it has a good chance of going in. It’s a joy to play on these greens.
“It was brilliant today. Out there every putt that shaved the edge or was dropping brought a big cheer. The galleries were great and I can’t thank them enough for the enthusiasm they are showing towards golf this week, it’s great to see. It looks like they are enjoying the event, and from a player’s perspective, we’re having a great time as well.
“Tomorrow is definitely the biggest day of my career, but you can’t think about that, and I need to put it all to the back of my mind. It will be a case of one shot at a time, concentrate on each shot, and hopefully the score will take care of itself.
“There are a lot of good players on the leaderboard and everyone is shooting under par, so you know you will need a good round. There are some great players there who won’t hand the tournament to you, so I’m going to have to go out there and make some birdies.
“The only way I have known in the past to cope with the pressure is to go one shot at a time, I know it is a cliché, but it is so true. You have to stay in the present, you can’t think about the bad or good in the past, and you can’t get too far ahead and start thinking about winning or trouble on a hole to come. One shot at a time is my motto tomorrow.”
Ritthammer will hope to convert his own good form of late into a maiden title on the second tier, following on from a tie for third last week in Chongqing.
This is the German’s fifth season on the Challenge Tour, and he will hope to finally cash in on his talent, but whatever happens on Sunday he is intent on enjoying himself as he tries to pick up a victory that would change his career.
“I have a very good chance tomorrow, and obviously the other guys are playing very solid, but the scoring is good. I played nicely apart from the last two holes, where I struggled a bit and made one or two mistakes, but the rest has been pretty good. My putting let me down a bit, but in general everything is OK.
“I’m just going to try and enjoy it tomorrow – that’s not just a phrase – I just want to make sure I enjoy the situation. I will try and play my best golf, but I don’t want to get angry when things go wrong as that will happen, so we will see where I end up.
“We are here to win and I have a great chance tomorrow, so we’ll see how far I get.”
Both Barnes and Hanson are alongside each other in a tie for fourth thanks to scores of 69 in each other’s company on Saturday.
Behind them is a whole host of top talent though including two time Challenge Tour winner Daniel Gaunt (70), former European Tour player Pelle Edberg (70), Belgian rookie Hugues Joannes (68) and England’s Chris Paisley (68).
Rounding out the top ten are another four players on nine under par, namely Ben Evans (68), Jens Fahrbring (69), Ricardo Gouveia (70) and Mark Tullo (68).
European Tour winner Rhys Davies and Spain’s Antonio Hortal shot the round of the day, a 66, to finish in a share of 25th and 19th respectively.
Scores after round three:
203 J Palmer (Eng) 65 69 69,
204 B Ritthammer (Ger) 66 69 69,
205 J Barnes (Eng) 66 70 69, C Hanson (Eng) 68 68 69,
206 C Paisley (Eng) 68 70 68, H Joannes (Bel) 70 68 68, D Gaunt (Eng) 67 69 70, P Edberg (Swe) 70 66 70,
207 R Gouveia (Por) 65 72 70, M Tullo (Chi) 69 70 68, J Fahrbring (Swe) 70 68 69, B Evans (Eng) 67 72 68,
208 C Shinkwin (Eng) 71 70 67, T Pilkadaris (Aus) 71 70 67, S Dong (Chn) 71 69 68, A McArthur (Sco) 68 70 70, P Widegren (Swe) 68 69 71, P Maddy (Eng) 71 68 69,
209 A Hortal (Esp) 71 72 66, A Marshall (Eng) 73 67 69, R Coles (Eng) 71 69 69, S Tiley (Eng) 72 69 68, E Espana (Fra) 72 67 70, W Harrold (Eng) 67 67 75,
210 B Åkesson (Swe) 74 67 69, R Davies (Wal) 71 73 66, J Guerrier (Fra) 69 71 70,
211 P Oriol (Esp) 68 69 74, J Huldahl (Den) 67 73 71, M Fitzpatrick (Eng) 69 70 72, N Lemke (Swe) 71 73 67, P Dwyer (Eng) 70 71 70, M Delpodio (Ita) 74 66 71, N Ravano (Ita) 72 70 69, L Ding-Feng (Chn) 66 72 73,
212 J Senior (Eng) 68 72 72, F Bergamaschi (Ita) 70 74 68, D Law (Sco) 70 73 69, B An (Kor) 73 68 71, M Wiegele (Aut) 70 69 73, M Orrin (Eng) 68 72 72,
213 T Linard (Fra) 72 71 70, H Ze-Yu (Chn) 67 74 72, A Velasco (Esp) 70 71 72, T Sluiter (Ned) 70 71 72,
214 C Ford (Eng) 73 70 71, C Yi (Chn) 72 71 71, O Zheng (Chn) 72 71 71, A Tadini (Ita) 74 70 70,
215 M Lafeber (Ned) 71 72 72, J Roos (RSA) 73 70 72,
216 R McGowan (Eng) 69 72 75, Y Tian (Chn) 71 74 71, J Lando Casanova (Fra) 70 71 75,
217 G Murray (Sco) 69 71 77, H Wen-Yi (Chn) 72 73 72, Z Guo-Wu (Chn) 71 68 78,
218 Z Hui-Lin (Chn) 72 72 74, H Shao-Cai (Chn) 74 70 74,
219 P Relecom (Bel) 74 68 77, W Weijun (Chn) 74 71 74
Source: European Tour