Victor Perez will take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Foshan Open after posting a five under par 67 on Day Three in China.
The Frenchman’s five under par round moves him to 16 under in total, two shots ahead of Englishman Callum Tarren and Italian Francesco Laporta, who tied the lowest tournament score at Foshan Golf Club with a stunning 63.
Perez was tied with Tarren, Ewen Ferguson and Jack Singh Brar at the halfway stage but it was the Frenchman who broke free from the pack with a three under par front nine to draw level with Laporta, who had set the target at 14 under, before birdies on the 13th and 18th gave him the sole lead.
With 48 players shooting under par rounds on Day Three, Perez admits he knew birdies were vital to remain in contention.
“It’s hard because you know you’re in the lead but by the time you tee off you’re probably not going to be in the lead because of how the course is playing,” he said.
“It was pretty soft with hardly any wind so you know the guys are going to come out and go for it. Francesco had an unbelievable round and tied the lowest ever score for the tournament so you knew a low score was out there.
“I had to keep the foot on the gas and make a lot of birdies and I was able to do that.
“I was just trying to stick to my gameplan and do what I can. If you start looking around you can make four or five pars in a row and feel like you’re losing ground when in reality you might not be. I just tried to focus on my game and stay patient because I knew opportunities would come around at some point.”
The 26 year old is currently on a red-hot run of form on the European Challenge Tour, finishing in the top 15 in each of his last six events.
He played in the final group in last month’s Hopps Open de Provence where a closing two over par 74 curtailed his chances of winning and he insists he’ll take that experience, as well as that of his 2017 Challenge de España victory, into tomorrow’s final round.
“It’s difficult because I’ve won before on this tour and I’ve lost before on this tour, so you just try and take as much as you can,” he said.
“There’s so much you think you control but there’s actually so little. I have to go out and try and do as well as I can. There are too many guys on the course and the course is playing too soft to second guess it.”
With a spot in the Road to Ras Al Khaimah top 15 well within his sights, Perez insists despite being unable to ignore the pressure, he has more interest in the continued improvement of his game.
“We’re getting to the end of the season but I know there’s another opportunity next week," he said. "I know my level of play is there and it has improved over the course of the year, which is what I’m really trying to focus on, more so than the results.
“If I keep focussing on improving my game and giving myself chances then I’ll be where I need to be.”
Laporta’s stunning 63, which included seven back nine birdies, means he will play in the final group alongside Perez and Tarren on Sunday. The duo sit on 14 under and a shot behind are Ferguson, Singh Brar and Oscar Lengden as well as Adrian Meronk and Max Orrin, both of whom shot five under par rounds of 67.
Seven players are a shot further back on 12 under, including Scot Robert MacIntyre who carded a bogey-free 64, with three more players on 11 under par.
The final round will begin at 7.29am local time on Sunday October 21, while the leading three will begin at 11.15am local time.
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