Oliver Bekker will take a two-shot lead into the final round of the 2022 Catalunya Championship as he looks to turn his fine form into a first DP World Tour victory.
The South African had a share of the lead after an opening 66 but entered the weekend one shot behind Englishman Laurie Canter at PGA Catalunya Golf and Wellness.
The playing partners did battle throughout round three and it was Bekker who finished on top, carding a 67 to get to 11 under and sit two ahead of Canter, who signed for a 70.
Bekker has five top-tens in nine starts in his first season with full playing privileges after graduating from the European Challenge Tour. His third-place finish at the Steyn City Championship was the best of his DP World Tour career but he has seven wins on the Sunshine Tour and now has an excellent platform from which to get over the line in Girona.
Canter is also looking for his maiden win after three runner-up finishes, most recently at the 2021 BMW PGA Championship.
Italian duo Lorenzo Gagli and Edoardo Molinari are at eight under, a shot clear of Kiwi Ryan Fox and Pole Adrian Meronk. Last week’s winner Pablo Larrazábal and fellow Spaniard Ivan Cantero Gutierrez are at six under alongside England’s Richard McEvoy, Dane Jeff Winther and Austrian Ryder Cup player Bernd Wiesberger.
Oliver Bekker: My short game really got me out of a bit of trouble today on a few occasions and I managed to capitalise on the shots that I did well so, all and all, great.
That one was big (on the 17th), that could be a real momentum moment with 18th coming up as well. With the storm coming in the wind is all over the place, so to make that putt was really important.
Tomorrow I’m just going to do the same thing, it’s been working for me, I’m not going to change anything. If it’s my day, it’s my day, if not just try to give my best and see what happens
Laurie Canter: I was happy with how I played to be honest, the front nine especially I played really solid, gave myself a lot of chances. All of my birdies were more or less tap in range. Dropping a shot on nine and walking off a couple under was probably about as bad as I could have scored for how I felt I played.
Had a bit of a water ball on 12, lost it right but it’s gone miles right. Dropping a shot on a par five probably turns a 67 or a 68 with the three putt on the last into a 70. I felt like I played good golf tee to green, could have gotten more out of the day. Overall happy with my performance.
The great thing about this course, I genuinely think the best player is going to win over 72 holes. It’s that sort of a test. That might be an obvious thing to say but it’s really prevalent here. If you manage your game well, chip, putt, it tests all the facets. In a way that’s good for me to feel like that, got to go out and try to be the best payer tomorrow. If I can play like I did today and get a bit more out of the round, I’ll have a chance.
Lorenzo Gagli: It has been a very good day today. I played really good golf and I’m very happy for the result. I played here a few Final Stages at the Qualifying School so I know the course very well. It’s in great condition, the golf course is amazing, it’s a very good golf course and if you play well you have a few chances to make birdie but if you play bad it’s really, really tough to reach the 18 greens. I’ll try to keep doing the same thing, to hit shot-by-shot and just focus on my game.
Edoardo Molinari: I think I played very well today. This week so far I’m putting better than others maybe. I’ve been struggling on the greens for a long time, the long game has always been there so it’s nice to finally be able to make some putts. I think you have to keep the ball in play, you have to hit a lot of greens. The rough is up and it’s tricky to get up and down around the greens.
One of the reasons I didn’t play last week was because I felt like the next three weeks are going to suit me a lot. It’s going to be a little bit softer tomorrow depending on the amount of rain. I think today the flags were a bit more accessible than the last two days.