Opportunity knocks for Moynihan and Sharvin
 Chase Koepka. Picture: Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority

Chase Koepka. Picture: Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority

Gavin Moynihan will have a chance to secure his European Tour card with one event to spare if he turns a two-stroke deficit into a maiden Challenge Tour victory in the Ras Al Khaimah 2017 Golf Challenge in the UAE.

The Mount Juliet touring professional, 23, added a bogey-free, four-under-par 68 to a brace of 69s to move up to tied fourth on eight under par behind American Chase Koepka at Al Hamra Golf Club in Ras Al Khaimah.

A win worth €47,222 would take Moynihan well above the estimated 90,000 points he needs to secure one of 15 European Tour cards via the Road to Oman rankings with next week’s final-counting NBO Golf Classic Grand Final remaining.

In fact, Moynihan might have enough if he finishes alone in second (€32,465). But with the top 24 on the leaderboard covered by just six shots, it could be a cavalry charge for victory on Saturday.

Ardglass’ Cormac Sharvin certainly needs two big weeks if he’s to make the top 15 as he’s 99th in the Rankings.

However, the Northern Irishman is well placed to make a move after a 69 on day three left him tied for ninth on seven-under, just three off the lead.

Koepka signed for a two-under-par 70 to lead by one stroke on 12-under-par from Sweden’s Jens Dantorp and Belgium's Christopher Mivis.

The Floridian has finished in the top five on five occasions already this season but, with European Tour status already assured for 2018, he has set his sights on signing off his Challenge Tour career with a maiden victory – and perhaps even the Road to Oman Rankings top spot.

“I really have no pressure on me,” said the 23-year-old. “I don’t have to play for my card, like some guys might have to this week, but that still doesn’t mean that I’m going to lose my focus out there.

“I still want to win, I still want to be at the top of the Road to Oman at the end of the year, and a ‘W’ would sure help me out on that.

“Today was a bit of a grind. I didn’t quite hit my long irons as well as I would have liked, but at the end of the day, I’m still at the top of the leaderboard and shooting two under when not playing well gives me a lot of confidence going into tomorrow.

“The greens were quite firm, and it seemed like a lot of the pins were quite tight. You needed to drive it well in the fairways and then have good distance control to get the ball close.

“I felt like it was hard for me to get the ball close and, even when I hit some really good putts, they didn’t seem to go in. But I managed my way around, and if this is going to be my bad day, I’ll take it.”

Moving Day can often be when a player pulls clear of the field but today saw the chasing pack tighten up, with 23 players all within five shots of Koepka’s lead.

His playing partner tomorrow will be Dantorp, whose outstanding round of 65 saw him climb 22 places – with only the top 45 in the Rankings contesting the NBO Golf Classic Grand Final next week, this would be a timely good result for the Swede, who is currently in 48th place, should he continue his form in the final round.

Mivis already knows that his breakthrough season on the Challenge Tour will end in Muscat but, three times a top-five finisher this year, he starts his bid for a maiden title just one shot back.

Poland’s Adrian Meronk led for much of the day having reached five under par for his round and 13 under par overall after 12 holes before late bogeys dropped him back into a share of fourth on ten under par with Moynihan, England’s Max Orrin and Garrick Porteous and Adrien Saddier of France.

Michael Hoey is tied for 34th on four-under after a 69 with Ruaidhri McGee tied 59th on one-under after a 72.

Ras Al Khaimah 2017 Golf Challenge, Al Hamra GC (Par 72)

Detailed scores

204 C Koepka (USA) 66 68 70, 

205 C Mivis (Bel) 71 65 69, J Dantorp (Swe) 71 69 65, 

206 C Sordet (Fra) 68 69 69, M Orrin (Eng) 68 70 68, G Porteous (Eng) 68 70 68, Gavin Moynihan (Irl) 69 69 68, A Meronk (Pol) 70 66 70, 

207 M Lafeber (Ned) 72 68 67, Cormac Sharvin (Nir) 70 68 69, J Winther (Den) 69 67 71, T Linard (Fra) 71 70 66, 

208 J Van Der Vaart (Ned) 64 70 74, S Brown (Eng) 67 74 67, M Schneider (Ger) 73 64 71, J Hansen (Den) 71 68 69, 

209 N Cullen (Aus) 71 73 65, G Boyd (Eng) 69 69 71, A Saddier (Fra) 71 65 73, J Senior (Eng) 72 68 69, J Sarasti (Esp) 69 67 73, J Guerrier (Fra) 68 67 74, S Fernandez (Esp) 69 73 67, V Perez (Fra) 67 71 71, 

210 C Blomstrand (Swe) 70 74 66, R Evans (Eng) 71 69 70, M Kinhult (Swe) 73 71 66, C Ford (Eng) 71 69 70, R Saxton (Ned) 72 68 70, P Widegren (Swe) 71 69 70, 

211 J Girrbach (Sui) 70 68 73, A Pavan (Ita) 71 69 71, O Farr (Wal) 74 70 67, 

212 E Van Rooyen (RSA) 73 66 73, S Heisele (Ger) 68 75 69, G Forrest (Sco) 73 69 70, M Schwab (Aut) 69 72 71, E Goya (Arg) 71 72 69, K Samooja (Fin) 69 71 72, M Wiegele (Aut) 71 69 72, P Oriol (Esp) 69 71 72, Michael Hoey (Nir) 72 71 69, 

213 S Tiley (Eng) 67 77 69, M Lampert (Ger) 69 75 69, A Tadini (Ita) 69 72 72, M Perry (Nzl) 70 70

73, D Huizing (Ned) 70 71 72, C Braeunig (Ger) 75 69 69, R Davies (Wal) 71 71 71, M Baldwin (Eng) 69 69 75, B Hellgren (Swe) 72 71 70, F Laporta (Ita) 72 71 70, 

214 T Pulkkanen (Fin) 75 67 72, S Einhaus (Ger) 68 71 75, R Enoch (Wal) 75 68 71, N Von Dellingshausen (Ger) 70 73 71, O Stark (Swe) 66 70 78, D Law (Sco) 69 73 72, 

215 M Trappel (Aut) 74 70 71, N Johansson (Swe) 71 72 72, T Tree (Eng) 69 69 77, Ruaidhri McGee (Irl) 73 70 72, 

217 O Wilson (Eng) 70 73 74, P Howard (Eng) 72 70 75, 

219 B Virto (Esp) 69 74 76, 

220 M Madsen (Den) 73 69 78.