Nacho Elvira will take a one-stroke lead into the final round of Made in HimmerLand 2023 after a closing double bogey gave hope to the chasing pack.
Playing in the final group with Robert MacIntyre, Elvira at one point opened up a three-stroke lead but a tee shot into the water at the last brought MacIntyre and fellow Scot Richie Ramsay back within striking distance.
At 13 under par, the Spaniard leads by one from MacIntyre with Ramsay a shot further back.
“I did play really well,” Elvira said after a four-under-par round of 66.
“The 18th tee shot was a bad swing and I can take a bad swing. It’s okay, it’s a good round of golf.
“I haven’t been putting great this season and it seems this week, it’s working out my way. I’m hitting it really well so I’m leaving myself closer chances for birdie, which helps a lot. I’m very pleased with my putting.”
Elvira had played Friday’s first seven holes in six under par and for the second day running he hit his opening approach inside a foot for a tap-in birdie.
MacIntyre got up and running with a perfect uphill approach to set up a birdie at the fourth, adding another at the par-five next which was matched by Elvira.
Both players made a further gain at the eighth to turn in 32, leaving Elvira one ahead at 12 under – but that turned around at the tenth as the Spaniard made a bogey four after missing the green while MacIntyre holed from 24 feet for birdie.
Elvira bounced back with birdie at the 11th, matched by his playing partner, and led once more after responding to MacIntyre’s first dropped shot of the day at the 12th by birdieing the 13th.
Ramsay had by that point joined MacIntyre at 12 under as the 14th brought him his sixth birdie in seven holes, which included holing putts of 41 feet at the ninth and 33 at the 13th. MacIntyre, though, birdied the 14th along with Elvira as they nudged ahead once more.
MacIntyre went over the back of the 16th on HimmerLand Hill and was unable to rein in his par putt from the fringe, costing him a two-shot swing as Elvira made a birdie to move three clear.
But Elvira found water off the last tee and came dangerously close again as his approach spun back off the green. He made a good up and down to limit the damage to a double bogey, enough to retain his lead as MacIntyre’s difficult birdie putt broke just too much.
MacIntyre, runner-up by a stroke to Bernd Wiesberger at this event four years ago, said: “When you’re out in the final group on a Saturday it’s just about staying in the fight.
“We were going toe to toe for a wee while there, it felt a bit like 2019 against Bernd again, but I’m in a good position going into tomorrow and that’s all we can look for.
“Tomorrow it’s just go out and play golf and hopefully it falls my way.”
Ramsay’s 65 was a shot better than the leading pair as he bounced back from a bogey at the fourth with seven birdies before another dropped shot at the last.
“That bogey hurt on four, especially where the pin was and being in the middle of the fairway,” he said.
“You’ve just got to to be patient and positive, the two Ps, just kept that in my mind and luckily I had a nice par five coming up.
“Chip missed there for eagle, made birdie which just boosted the confidence. Went on a nice little run from there and felt really good.
“Disappointed with bogey at the last, that was a poor chip, but the last is not playing easy at all.”
Marc Warren made it three Scots in the top five as he shared fourth place with Dutchman Daan Huizing on nine under.
Fabrizio Zanotti and David Micheluzzi shot 62s, the joint best rounds of the day and the week, to join a group at eight under alongside Alexander Bjork, who went round in 63, Marcel Siem and Kalle Samooja.