Eddie Pepperell produced an excellent display of front-running to hold off the chasing pack and maintain his three-shot lead heading into the final round of the Sky Sports British Masters.
Opening rounds of 67, 69 had created that cushion for the home favourite at Walton Heath Golf Club and a third-round 71 moved him to nine under ahead of countryman Jordan Smith, Swede Alexander Bjork, Frenchman Julien Guerrier and American Julian Suri.
Italy’s Andrea Pavan matched the lowest round of the week with a 67 to sit five shots off the lead alongside another Englishman in Matt Wallace.
World No 50 Pepperell has finished in the top 10 in five of his last eight events as he looks for a second European Tour win after victory at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters in February.
The 27-year-old will head into Sunday with a solo 54-hole lead for the first time in his career as he looks to become the first wire-to-wire winner on the European Tour since Wallace at last season’s Open de Portugal at Morgado Golf Resort.
‘It would have been nice to hole a couple of putts on the back nine for sure,’ he said. ‘Give myself a bit more daylight.
‘But I’m confident that I can go out there tomorrow and shoot three, four under par and make everyone else’s life very difficult. New position for me, first time I’ve ever gone out there with a three-shot lead on a Saturday so, to have maintained it, I would say is not a failure.
‘Looking back today, I did feel like I hit a lot of nice, solid shots. If I can achieve that tomorrow, I’ll be happy.’
Frenchman Adrien Saddier matched Pavan’s 67 to sit at three under alongside 2015 champion Matthew Fitzpatrick, 2008 Masters Tournament winner Trevor Immelman and last week’s victor Lucas Bjerregaard.
Credit: European Tour