Michael Hoey plans to be aggressive when he goes into final round of the Madeira Islands Open tied for the lead with England’s Jamie Elson.
Bidding for his second European Tour title, just over two years after his maiden win in the Estoril Open de Portugal, 32-year old Hoey fired six birdies in a five under par 67 to share top spot on nine under par.
The Ulsterman and Elson are two strokes clear of England’s Chris Gane, Scot Alastair Forsyth and Francois Delamontagne of France on nine under par as overnight leader Simon Thornton slipped seven shots behind after a 77.
And the Belfast man intends to remain aggressive, especially on the six par-five holes at the Seve Ballesteros designed Porto Santo Golfe.
Seven under for the par-fives so far this week, Hoey was disappointed with his finish to his third round as he got to six under par early on the back nine for the second day in a row but bogeyed the 16th and then horseshoed out for a birdie four at the last.
“It was not quite as solid,” Hoey said. “I got to six under again and I probably should have gotten to eight under. So I left two or three shots out there but I am in a good position going into tomorrow.
“Hopefully I can play the last few holes better tomorrow, which I will need to if I am to have a chance to win.”
Ranked 114th in the Race to Dubai standings, Hoey knows that a win would leave him exempt until the end of 2012.
But he also knows that Elson and the rest of the chasing pack will be gunning for that one year exemption and their maiden victories on Sunday.
“Things have been going my way,” Hoey said. “I have been putting pretty good and chipping pretty good. The course was tougher today with some back tees on the par threes. So I will just get a good rest and give it a go tomorrow.
“There are plenty of birdies on the par fives and a couple of short par fours like the 14th and the 11th. So if you play the par fives well you’ve a good chance.
“It’s just nice to be in a position in a tournament. I am trying not to think about the result and trying to just play. That’s how you play your best. I will go out tomorrow to play aggressively.
“Everyone is really hungry to win. There is a year and a half exemption into all the events which a win gets you so everyone will be hungry.
“I will just try to play aggressively but there is a long way to go. You never know right to the end but I am looking forward to it.
“I will sleep well. I am watching 24 at the moment so that keep the mind away. It is just nice to be looking forward to playing on Sunday. Sometimes you are in 30th place and just playing for money, so it is good to have that.”
Elson signed for a 68 to join Hoey on nine under and said: “Thrilled to bits, it’s my second straight round of four under, and in these conditions, I’m extremely pleased.
“My game plan seemed to be working quite well, and I putted really nicely today, so overall I’m very pleased. In a final round it’s all about getting off to a steady start. Just keep it in play, make the right decisions, and hopefully don’t go too far wrong and if a couple of putts go in, then great.”
Overnight leader Thornton birdied the third but then dropped five shots in five holes from the sixth and another at the 17th to kiss his chance of victory goodbye.
Glasson’s Challenge Tour professional Colm Moriarty had four birdies and three bogeys in a 71 to share 10th place on three under.
Niall Kearney (78-76) and Gary Murphy (75-83), missed the halfway cut on Friday.