Even with two bogeys down the stretch on Saturday, Jacques Blaauw’s second successive four-under-par 67 took him into a three-way share of the lead in the Challenge Tour’s Italian Challenge Open.
With six birdies in the first 11 holes, Blaauw had got it to 11-under for the tournament. And with the bogeys on 14 and 15, it looked as if he was going to finish just out of the lead, but second-round leader Freddy Schott of Germany also had two late bogeys to slip down into a share of the lead at nine-under. Blaauw and Schott were joined in the lead by Benjamin Rusch of Switzerland, who made four birdies in a row around the turn on his way to five-under for the third round.
Blaauw was thrilled to be playing well again. “I’ve been in a pretty bad place recently, to be honest,” he said. “I’ve been missing cuts by one or two, and it just didn’t seem to be coming right. But I’ve been working on my mental approach, and things seemed to have turned a corner.”
He kept things very controlled in his second and third rounds: “I didn’t use driver once of the tee in the last two rounds,” he said. “It was all three-wood and hybrids, and that has given me the chances I needed. My putting has been pretty good for a while, so I just needed to roll a few in and things started turning around.”
The leading trio were one ahead of Northern Ireland’s Tom McKibbin, who was on eight-under, with six players in a share of fifth on seven-under.
Deaon Germishuys and Bryce Easton were on five-under in a share of 15th after rounds of 71 and 69 respectively.