Scottish duo Duncan Stewart and David Law are set to go out with all guns blazing in tomorrow’s final round of the inaugural Ras Al Khaimah Challenge in the United Arab Emirates.
The pair have matched each other every step of the way so far at Al Hamra Golf Club and will now head out together on the last day with the leader, Swede Marcus Kinhult, in their sights.
Sitting on 13-under following rounds of 68, 69 and 66 - both birdied the last in the latter effort - Stewart and Law are just three of the pace in joint-fifth as they chase different targets in the Challenge Tour’s penultimate event of the season.
Stewart has already secured his step up to the European Tour next season, having amassed sufficient earnings to guarantee a top-15 finish in the Road to Oman after next week’s Grand Final.
The 32-year-old came into this event sitting ninth on the money-list, but the higher he finishes the better when it comes to getting into some of the bigger European Tour events.
“It’s been an incredible year and keeps getting better,” admitted Stewart, who laid the foundations by winning in Madrid early in the season and has backed that up with five top-10 finishes.
“It is weird considering position I was in this time last year,” added the Edinburgh-based player of getting a job as a delivery van driver at the end of a disappointing 2015 campaign.
“I’ve got the World Cup coming up (Russell Knox has picked his old college team-mate to represent Scotland in Australia) then a couple of events on the main Tour before Christmas.”
On another low-scoring day in the UAE, Stewart was seven-under through 14 holes, then dropped shots at the 15th and 16th before making a 4 at the last.
“I played really good,” he said. “I drove it solid, my wedge play was really good, my chipping was good and I holed some nice putts.
“I’m a little disappointed about 15th and 16th, but you can’t really expect to play perfect the whole round and I made a good up and down at 17th before the birdie at the last.
“I felt at the start of the week that this course was going to suit me. I’ve been aiming straight at every flag and so far it has worked.”
For Law, his main target at the start of the week was climbing from 82nd in the Road to Oman into the top 70 so that he gets into the final stage of the European Tour Qualifying School.
However, should he finish second outright, the 25-year-old Aberdonian will leap into the top 45 on the money-list and thereby get into the Grand Final in Muscat.
“Top 70 is the big goal right now so that I can make Qualifying School, but it would also be nice obviously if I could make it to next week,” admitted Law, a two-time Scottish Amateur champion.
His best finish of the season was tied eighth in Switzerland back in early June but he added: “I’ve been playing a bit better the last month or so and have played pretty good all week here.
“It’s a good course and I’m enjoying it. There’s not too much trouble so you need to be aggressive.
“You’re not going to shoot one or two-under and stay where you are. You need to keep going four, five or six-under par.
“The last few weeks I’ve had the attitude that anything is a bonus. I’m playing a bit better golf for it.
“I will be a wee bit more nervous tomorrow, but that’s only natural.”
It was also another good day for Grant Forrest, who is making his first appearance as a professional on the Challenge Tour.
The 23-year-old from North Berwick recovered from being two-over after six to card a three-under 68 and sits joint-17th on nine-under.
Scott Henry, who is already guaranteed his spot at the Grand Final, had a 70 for seven-under while Ross Kellett edged closer to making it to Muscat, too.
Sitting 46th on the money-list at the start of the event, the Motherwell man had a 69 for six-under and now needs a strong last round to extend his Challenge Tour campaign by another week.
Kinult, who sits 68th on the Road to Oman and needs a top-three finish to jump above Kellett, carded a bogey-free 65 for 16-under and holds a two-shot cushion over English duo Max Orrin and Jordan Smith as well as Spaniard Pedro Oriol.