As has been the case at the end of the previous two rounds, Lasse Jensen (pictured by Agathe Seron) is once again at the head of affairs at the Rolex Trophy after a 67 on day three at Golf Club de Genève.
The Copenhagen native is 18 under par and two strokes clear of his nearest challenger – Benjamin Hebert – who fired a best of the day 65 on Friday to move into second place.
Plenty of red numbers over the front nine were once again the foundation for Jensen’s leading position, carding five gains over the first half of the round, before another at the 12th saw him pull well clear of the chasing pack.
He would close with a bogey at the par four last, which took the shine off an otherwise ideal day in Geneva, but he still enters the final round in perfect position to pick up a maiden European Challenge Tour title.
“As I said yesterday, I wanted to erase the first two rounds and that is what I did today,” said Jensen. All in all, it was a great day really as a lot of things worked out for me and I played very solid, so I am happy.
“It just didn’t go my way over those last six holes. It was breezy all day long and the greens firmed up a lot, so it became really difficult to get close to the pins, and therefore I didn’t have any close birdie chances on the last few holes. It was tougher today, and that’s why I couldn’t go lower.
“Sometimes it is maybe an advantage to not lead by too many shots as you could get too conservative. Now it’s pretty tight at the top, I need to erase these first three rounds again and attack tomorrow, because the other guys are playing great at the moment and they will probably play well again. I need to dig deep tomorrow and find my best.”
As for the second placed Hebert, this week is a continuation of the form he has shown previously at the Rolex Trophy, an event that he triumphed at back in 2011 en route to a third Challenge Tour victory of the season.
That feat saw him graduate automatically to The Race to Dubai, but having returned to the second tier last season after struggling for his best form, this year has seen the Frenchman rediscover the winning touch.
Three rounds in the 60s over the first 54 holes at Miklagard Golf Club saw Hebert establish a winning position at the Norwegian Challenge, and having given up a third round lead a week prior in Azerbaijan, the 27 year old held on for a two stroke victory over Florian Fritsch
His latest triumph has him in ideal position on the Challenge Tour Rankings, after moving up into that all important top 15, and eight birdies and a bogey on Friday have ensured he is in position to perhaps claim another title at the end of the final round.
“It was a tough day as it was windy, it was quite hot, and the greens started to get firmer,” said the 11th placed man on the Rankings. “To make birdies you need to hit good shots that are close to the pins, then hole the putts, and that is what I managed to do and is what I have been doing for six weeks now.
“I am not making any mistakes from tee, and while I had doubts about my putting at the beginning of the week, that is over now. I holed two or three important ones today and to be 16 under after three rounds you need to putt well.
“I am really disappointed right now with the three putt on the last green but in five minutes I will realize that I had a great day. For now it is tough to deal with as the greens are not easy to read, they are quite sloped and you have to find the right speed and break, which I did today.
“I would have preferred to be only one shot back of Lasse but still, I had a great back nine. It is still possible to come back, but I need the same round as today to win.”
With the top two having separated themselves somewhat, there is a four stroke gap from Hebert in second to the pair of Callum Shinkwin and Damian Ulrich, tied in third.
The former got his work done early on Friday morning, firing a 66 to jump right into contention at 12 under par before the leading Jensen had even hit the course, but he will have work to do in the final round if he is to contend for a maiden win of his own.
As for Ulrich, who is the only home player in the field this week, he posted a three under par round of 69 to pull alongside Shinkwin. He posted his best Challenge Tour result in Geneva a year ago when he finished fifth, and he is set to go one better than that, with 18 holes still to play.
One stroke further adrift is the man who had been Jensen’s closest competitor through the first two days – Byeong-hun An – but a costly triple bogey at the 16th was followed by a dropped shot at the last to see him fall some way behind the leading Dane, thanks to a one over par 73.
He is alongside Michael Lorenzo-Vera, who shot a 71 on day three to enter the final round in a tie for fifth with the Korean, seven shots off the lead.
Scores after round 3:
198 L Jensen (Den) 61 70 67,
200 B Hebert (Fra) 67 68 65,
204 D Ulrich (Sui) 67 68 69, C Shinkwin (Eng) 69 69 66,
205 B An (Kor) 63 69 73, M Lorenzo-Vera (Fra) 64 70 71,
206 F Fritsch (Ger) 68 67 71, J Lando Casanova (Fra) 69 70 67,
207 E Espana (Fra) 67 71 69, A Johnston (Eng) 66 69 72, S Brown (Eng) 68 70 69, T Linard (Fra) 71 68 68, S Hutsby (Eng) 65 71 71,
208 M Fitzpatrick (Eng) 69 68 71, A Marshall (Eng) 71 67 70, J Roos (RSA) 68 68 72,
209 C Bouniol (Fra) 67 68 74, B Åkesson (Swe) 68 71 70, M Tullo (Chi) 69 68 72, L Gagli (Ita) 70 69 70, D Coupland (Eng) 71 71 67,
210 A Bernadet (Fra) 68 70 72, P Relecom (Bel) 69 68 73, J Huldahl (Den) 71 71 68, J Barnes (Eng) 70 70 70, J Garcia Pinto (Esp) 69 69 72,
211 A Hortal (Esp) 68 73 70, C Arendell (USA) 72 67 72,
212 T Pilkadaris (Aus) 68 71 73, M Delpodio (Ita) 70 75 67,
213 D Gaunt (Eng) 70 71 72, C Aguilar (Esp) 74 69 70,
214 R Coles (Eng) 70 69 75, J Fahrbring (Swe) 70 75 69,
216 J Palmer (Eng) 74 69 73, P Oriol (Esp) 75 73 68, W Harrold (Eng) 70 71 75, S Henry (Sco) 69 77 70,
218 O Farr (Wal) 72 72 74,
219 F Bergamaschi (Ita) 71 73 75, P Widegren (Swe) 71 70 78,
220 A Tadini (Ita) 71 75 74, N Quintarelli (Ita) 76 70 74,
221 A McArthur (Sco) 70 74 77,
Source: European Tour