Stephen Gallacher holed a 40-yard bunker shot for an eagle at the 18th hole to put the seal on a sparkling 10-under 62 and take a three-shot lead after the third round of the Dubai Desert Classic on Saturday.
The Briton, seeking to end a nine-year wait for a European Tour win, notched a 21-under total of 195 to streak clear of midway leader Richard Sterne (66) of South Africa, with young Dane Thorbjorn Olesen (67) two strokes further back.
Gallacher’s 54-hole aggregate is the lowest in the event’s history, beating by one stroke the record set by former world No. 1 Tiger Woods in 2001.
World No. 8 Lee Westwood, the highest-ranked player in the field, fired a 66 and was nine shots behind Gallacher, with whom he finished joint runner-up in last year’s event.
Gallacher, nephew of former Ryder Cup captain Bernard, almost recorded an albatross (double-eagle) at the par-five 13th when his second shot hit the flag and finished just four feet away.
There was never any doubt in the Scot’s mind about his spectacular final shot, though.
“The moment I hit it I knew it was either stiff or in,” said the world No. 111, whose only European Tour win came at the 2004 Dunhill Links Championship at St Andrews.
“I struggled last week [at the Qatar Masters] and my driver cracked, but with the new one I’m hitting more fairways and I’ve putted really good. I’m excited and looking forward to tomorrow,” Gallacher told reporters.
He said his knowledge of the Emirates Golf Club stood him in good stead.
“I’m pretty familiar with his course. I come out here on holiday with the family,” Gallacher said.
In joint fourth place on 202 were Chile’s Felipe Aguilar (66), Jeev Milkha Singh (67) of India and Britain’s Tommy Fleetwood (69).
Former world No. 2 Sergio Garcia, battling against shoulder pain, slipped down the field with a 71 for 206.