South Africa’s Justin Walters remained on course for a maiden European Tour title at the ISPS HANDA UK Championship after a three-under 69 gave him a two-stroke lead heading into the final round at The Belfry.
Two-time Major champion Martin Kaymer and Benjamin Hebert are two shots behind on 10-under 206, with four golfers three shots further back on 209.
Another South African, Bryce Easton, is tied eighth after a third-round 70 for a six-under 210 overall.
Walters, looking to complete a wire-to-wire victory after taking charge with a stunning opening 64, signed for a 69 to reach 12 under for the week.
Kaymer surged through the field with a thrilling 66 to move to second, while France’s Hebert signed for a 70.
Walters – who has been a runner-up three times on the European Tour, with two of those results coming in Portugal to keep his card – made a perfect start with a birdie from 20 feet at the first.
A gain at the 3rd was followed by a bogey at the 4th, but Walters pitched to six feet from a bunker at the 5th to swiftly get the shot back. The 39-year-old gained further shots at the 7th and 14th, either side of a dropped shot on the 11th, to double his overnight advantage.
‘I was really impressed with myself, to be honest,’ said Walters. ‘I’ve never been in this position – on a Friday I don’t think I’ve ever led a tournament – but I woke up unusually calm.
‘I just wanted to go out there and stick with what I thought. Keep playing aggressively and whatever came my way, came my way. I stayed with it, gave myself the best chance of making birdies. For the most part I just wanted to be aggressive and I think that panned out for me today.’
The 33-year-old Hebert, also chasing his first title at this level, lost ground after mixing five birdies with three bogeys.
‘It was tough for me because I struggled a lot with my tee shots, especially on the front nine,’ he said. ‘But then I managed my rhythm a little better on the back nine. Also, my putting was pretty solid today, so I’m pretty happy.’
Hebert’s struggles on the front nine allowed Kaymer to move into a share of second as the German seeks a first European Tour win since his comprehensive US Open victory at Pinehurst.
South Africa’s Dean Burmester and Garrick Higgo are tied 40th on level-par 216 after shooting third rounds 76 and 75, respectively. Wilco Nienaber is a shot further back on 217 after a third-round 76.
JC Ritchie, the other South African in the field, had missed the cut after rounds of 71 and 75.