Team Ireland’s Cormac Sharvin is lurking just two strokes off the lead and hoping to deny France's Antoine Rozner the honour of becoming the first back-to-back winner on the European Challenge Tour since 2012.
The former Walker Cup star from Ardglass made a big move on Saturday when he chalked up six birdies in a five-under 67 to move into a tie for fourth on 11-under par at the Prague Golf Challenge and on track to challenge for his maiden Challenge Tour win.
Rozner posted a four under par 68 on a weather-affected third day at Prague City Golf and was forced to wait over an hour to play the final two holes to eventually post the target at 13 under par as thunder and lightning descended on the Czech capital.
He leads by one from playing partners Mathieu Fenasse – the 36-hole leader – and Jonas Kölbing while countryman Grégory Havret and 26-year-Sharvin are a shot further back on 11 under.
Rozner claimed his first Challenge Tour title as he raced through the field on the final day of last week’s Challenge de España and should he win again this week, he will be the first man to triumph in successive weeks since Kristoffer Broberg’s pair of victories at the Finnish Challenge and Norwegian Challenge in August 2012.
However, in stark contrast to last week’s final day leaderboard ascent, he must sleep on the 54-hole lead this time and the pressure is greater.
“It’s totally different to last week,” he said. “Being the leader on Saturday night is a whole different story.
“I’ll call my coach, my sports psychologist as well, and we’ll talk about it and I think I’ll be ready for it. I’ve just got to keep doing what I’ve been doing for the last few weeks and I should be fine.”
The 26-year-old had a two-shot cushion prior to the weather delay but then bogeyed the 18th hole after the hour’s break, which he believes was a momentum killer.
“The delay wasn’t easy,” he said. “I was lucky enough to play that second shot on 17 before the delay so I just had to putt on that hole and I hit a great putt but it just lipped out.
“The 18th is a tough hole and I played it a bit too safe. I was too far left from where I wanted to be and the greens were slower after the rain. I left it short and missed the second shot but that happens.
“I’m just a bit disappointed with that finish after the rain delay because I three-putted at the last but tomorrow’s a new day. I still have a one-shot lead so I’ll just do everything I can to keep that lead and we’ll see who wins.”
Rhys Enoch, who posted a five under par 67 on Day Three, and Wil Besseling share sixth place on ten under par, while French duo Sébastien Gros and Robin Roussel, along with Richard Bland and Mark Flindt Haastrup, are a shot further back on nine under par.
Havret moved into contention with the low round of the day – a seven under par 65 – which was bogey free and nine under par before two blemishes in his final three holes meant he dropped back to 11 under par.
The final round of the Prague Golf Challenge will begin at 9.00am local time on Sunday, with the final group of Rozner, Fenasse and Kölbing set to tee off at 10.40am.
Sharvin, who came close to winning his card at Q-School last year despite being handed a cruel, two-shot penalty for inadvertently teeing up “a couple of inches” ahead of the tee markers at the 170-yard par three-seventh in the final round.
He was 15-under par for the tournament after six holes when his German playing partner, Alexander Knappe, pointed out his mistake.
He went on to card a gutsy, two-under 69 but agonisingly finished one shot outside the 16-under qualifying mark and admitted that he didn’t want to blame one hole, or Knappe, for his failure to get his card.
Fellow professionals Paul Dunne and Shaen Lowry, whose caddie Brian Martin is Sharvin’s uncle, were sympathetic.
Lowry said: “I was very sorry for Cormac Sharvin. He was very, very unlucky and he will get his day out here."
Tramore’s Robin Dawson was tied for 33rd on four-under after a 70 with Ruaidhri McGee a shot further back after a 71.