Matthew Southgate and Maverick Antcliff share the lead heading into the final round of the Porsche European Open in pursuit of their maiden European Tour titles.
Southgate added a 69 to his opening 70 at Green Eagle Golf Course to match Antcliff’s total of five under par, the Australian coming within inches of a hole-in-one on the 17th as he birdied his last three holes for a 68.
Scotland’s David Law and Scott Jamieson, Holland’s Darius van Driel and Italy’s Edoardo Molinari are a shot off the lead, Molinari surging through the field with a brilliant 65, the lowest round of the week and a 10-shot improvement on round one.
Southgate believes the tough course plays to his strengths and the 32-year-old Englishman has plenty of belief in his long game.
“I’ve driven it particularly well, it’s a big strength of my game,” Southgate said. “Every tee it’s been like, take a couple of deep breaths and stick to the process of what I do every week.
“The fairways are narrow for everyone but I’ve felt for a long time I’m one of the better drivers of a golf ball in the world so I’m just trying to remind myself of positive thoughts, let it go and don’t steer it from the tee. Through 36 holes it’s worked so far.
“There’s a lot of power players out here and when you play with guys who hit it 20, 30 yards off line but they can get away with it from time to time it’s quite difficult to compete.
“But when the rough’s up and the bunkers are there and the fairways are narrow I think it makes it a lot more level playing field and your skill set’s really got to stand up to the test.
“If you do feel nervous that’s natural. We put our hearts and souls into this game and chances like this don’t come along too often. I certainly won’t want to drop any shots for letting the moment get in the way, hopefully my experience will stand me in good stead.”
Fans have been allowed on site at an event on European soil for the first time since October 2019, although the tournament started on Saturday and is being played over 54 holes due to potential quarantine issues for players, caddies and staff from the UK.
“It’s so nice to see people out enjoying the golf,” Southgate added.
“It’s been very quiet and lonely out there at certain times through Covid with no spectators, they really build that atmosphere and make it feel special being part of the tournament.”
Defending champion Paul Casey is five shots off the lead after adding a second round of 69 to his opening 75 to get back to level par.