Jon Rahm will lead the Race to Dubai by 362.9 points from Shane Lowry if he claims the Mutuactivos Open de España in Madrid today.
The big Basque will attempt to become the first person to successfully defend the title in nearly 70 years when he takes a five-stroke lead into the final round at Club de Campo Villa de Madrid.
if he pulls it off and claims the 460 Race to Dubai Points earmarked for the winner, he will have a healthy lead over Lowry who reappears in next week’s Italian Open in Rome. Scores
With Italy, the WGC HSBC Champions and the Turkish Airlines Open to come, Lowry would have chances to retake top spot and build a lead before Rahm reappears for the season-ending DP World Tour Championship, Dubai.
A blistering back nine, which included five birdies and an eagle, saw the World Number Five card an incredible round of 63, as he bids to become the first player to win back-to-back Open de España titles since Max Faulkner in 1953.
The 24-year-old sent the home fans into raptures with his eagle on the 16th hole, holing out from 125 yards to move to 17 under par
The four-time European Tour winner starts five stokes ahead of compatriots Rafa Cabrera Bello, chasing his first victory since 2017, and World Number 1,413 Samuel Del Val, who is making his first European Tour start since the Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucia Valderrama Masters.
The pair are 12-under par after third rounds of 70 and 69 respectively.
In fourth is Sweden’s Jens Dantorp, who carded a six-under par round of 65 for an 11 under par total. While in fifth place is home hopeful Adri Arnaus, South African Zander Lombard and Australia’s Jason Scrivener on ten under par.
“Everything was really calm for the most part, until that ball went in on 16,” Rahm said. "“I was focused on what I had to do. You need to put it in the fairway, where you can have some wood shots and be aggressive.
“I kept getting good numbers and hitting the right shots. Beside the birdie putt on ten, the others were inside six feet, it was a case of good ball striking and making the short putts I had.
“I’ve never teed off with such a lead. It’s always been a one-shot lead or tied for the lead, so it’ll be a different story. I don’t know what the challenge will be. I have a really good chance to defend this title. I’m feeling good, I’ll keep doing what I’m doing, hitting it good off the tee and hitting good iron shots and it will take care of itself.”
Dawson slips back in Morocco
Robin Dawson is 12 shots off the pace after following his opening 64 with rounds of 79 and 75 in the Lalla Aïcha Challenge Tour in Morocco
He’s 53rd on two-over par at Royal Golf Dar Es Salam where Joel Sjöholm chipped in at the 18th green to share the lead with Jack Senior on 10-under. Scores
The Swede, who has been struggling with illness throughout the week, carded a one under par 71 as Senior shot 68 on moving day.
Currently occupying 19th position on the Road to Mallorca Rankings, Sjöholm will go in search of his second European Challenge Tour title tomorrow but admits he will need to improve his game if he is to clinch his first win since the 2017 Italian Challenge Open after a testing third day in Morocco.
“It’s been a horrible week for me,” he said. “I’ve had a virus and I’ve been basically sleeping for the whole week.
“I’m very pleased to be under par, this golf course is a tough one. You have to play strategically, be aggressive and do everything right. If you don’t, it takes you apart piece by piece.
“It was a tough day out there today. I made an amazing up-and-down on 17, after managing to get a par out of the hazard on the 16th. Then on the 18th, I hit a great third shot into the pin, but the greens are so firm and I ended up in the rough over the green.
“Somehow, I don’t know how, but the chip managed to go in, so I am definitely happy to be under par today because it very easily could have been two over. Today has been a complete headache for me from tee one until I signed the scorecard, so I’m going to need to go out there and hit more fairways and greens tomorrow.”
Meanwhile, Senior is eyeing his second Challenge Tour victory this season following his triumph at the ISPS Handa World Invitational Men | Women, Presented by Modest! Golf Management as he looks to cement his European Tour card for the 2020 season.
“I felt like I recovered well from yesterday,” he said. “I went out there with a different game plan today, playing a little more conservatively off the tee which paid off. I actually ended up scoring well on the holes I struggled with yesterday.
“You just need to get on a good run, which I managed to do on the back nine today and you’re always happy to shoot four under on a Saturday to get you into the mix.
“I’ve been in this situation a few times before and you’ve just got to try and draw off those positions but it’s never easy to win. I’m just looking forward to tomorrow and we’ll see what happens.”
The pair sit one shot clear of Danish teenager Rasmus Højgaard, who posted six birdies and just the one dropped shot in his five under par round of 67.