England’s David Lynn went from a terrible start to a brilliant finish to claim a share of the lead in the Algarve Open de Portugal.
Lynn stumbled to a double bogey six on the first hole but eagled the 18th for a third-round 66 in perfect conditions at Penina.
It gave the 30-year-old an 11-under total of 205 and a share of the lead with Spanish pair Miguel Angel Jimenez, who birdied the last for a round of 70, and Ignacio Garrido, who returned a 69.
However, there are 17 players within three shots of the lead chasing the €211,700 first prize, including Ireland’s Peter Lawrie (70), Englishman Andrew Raitt (67), Welsh pair Ian Woosnam (71) and Stephen Dodd (68) and Scotland’s Raymond Russell (65).
“I was a bit cheesed off coming off the first but managed to birdie the next two and that was what I needed because you could start to lose your focus,” said Lynn, who holed from 18 feet on the last for his eagle after a three-iron approach from 220 yards.
“But I’ve been working on the psychological side of my game for nearly a year and it’s paying off.
"That was the area I felt I needed to improve.
“You tend to look at the negative side a bit too often, I think everybody is guilty of that in life.”
Lynn had six top-10 finishes last year and has earned more than £1million in prize money on the European Tour but has yet to record a victory.
“I’ve been up there a few times and I love the buzz of it all,” added Lynn, who will be watched by his parents Ron and Lesley on Sunday, although they may have to leave early to catch their flight home.
“Some players don’t like it but you have to relish these situations where every shot means something. I’ve put myself in a nice position again so we will see what tomorrow brings.”
Meanwhile Raitt, who is contemplating quitting the game at the end of the season, admitted he now had to consider himself a contender for the title after a third-round 67 left him sharing fourth on nine under par.
But even first prize would not “touch the surface” of his money problems after the ruinous expense of legal action against the owner of the dog which bit off part of his little finger in 1995.
Raitt was walking his dog at his home club of St George’s Hill in Weybridge when it was attacked by an Alsatian named Zomba. When he tried to separate the dogs, Zomba bit the tip of his left little finger, leaving it shorter by half a centimetre and lacking in sensation.
The 34-year-old told High Court judge Sir Ian Kennedy it forced him to change his grip and his play had suffered as a result, but the judge said he was “not persuaded that there has been anything other than an imperceptible movement of his grip” and that this “has had no impact on his ability as a player”.
Raitt was therefore awarded just £4,900 (€7,500) damages in December 2002 – less than he had been offered out of court – and after an unsuccessful appeal last year has been left with a legal bill approaching £400,000 (€609,300).
“I’d like to think I have a chance,” he said.
“But today I got the best out of my round. I didn’t play that well but I took all the chances I had.
“I changed my putter a couple of weeks ago and I putted nicely today. That made a big difference and if I keep putting well you never know.
“I have a friend of mine, Paul Robey, on the bag this week – I was at his house on Wednesday when I got the call to say I was in the tournament – and he has never been to anything like this before.
“He has really helped me. I hit some nasty shots and would turn around and say ‘if only I hadn’t been bitten’, and he just says ‘Andy, shut up, smile and get on with it’. He says just be positive.”
Russell was also on nine under after a flawless round of 65 equalled the course record, the 31-year-old from Edinburgh benefiting from clearing his head of swing thoughts.
“I had a lesson with Bob Torrance on Tuesday and it worked fine on the range, but I can’t carry it on to the course,” said Russell, whose sole European Tour win came in the Cannes Open in 1996.
“So today I decided to clear my head of theory and go with balance and rhythm and it worked.”
Peter Lawrie -9
Damien McGrane -8
Graeme McDowell -8
Gary Murphy -3
Philip Walton -3