Irishman Simon Thornton powered to the top of the leaderboard at the St Omer Open with help from a hole in one on Saturday.
Thornton’s third-round six-under-par 65 featuring two eagles, including his ace at the par-three 11th, left him with a share of the lead with South African Tjaart van der Walt and France’s Baptiste Chapellan.
This trio, on a combined total of four-under-par 209, head into the final round one shot clear of Briton Steve Benson, with German Max Glauert, England’s Chris Lloyd and Frenchman Victor Riu all a further shot back.
After his hole in one heroics in breezy conditions Thornton, who was born in the northern English city of Bradford, said: “That was obviously pretty good.
“I just played really well, hit some good shots and in weather like that you just have to keep straight and that’s what I do well,” the 36-year-old said. “There were times when you could have hit any one of five clubs because the wind was unpredictable, but you just have to pick one and trust it. I holed about a 30-footer for eagle at the ninth and then the hole in one. I was in between a seven iron and an eight iron and I hit a nice smooth seven and it was all over the flag, one big bounce and it just rolled in, it was really good shot. There were a few high fives and shouts, it was my first one in a professional tournament, so I was delighted.”
England’s Robert Dinwiddie, who had a share of the lead at the start of the day, dropped back to three shots off the pace after a round marred by five bogeys for a 74.