In-form Grant Forrest in top 10 heading into final round in Saudi International

He may have been helped by a puff of wind off the Rea Sea, but it's easy to see why Grant Forrest feels he is riding on the crest of a wave in his second season on the European Tour.

Grant Forrest talks to reporters after carding a four--under-par 66 in the third round of the Saudi International at Royal Greens Golf Club in King Abdullah City

“This is as good as I’ve felt since coming on to the tour," declared the 26-year-old after carding a second successive four-under-par 66 to sit joint-10th behind Graeme McDowell heading into the final round of the $3.5 million Saudi International.

It wasn't exactly a shabby rookie season on the the main circuit for Forrest, who stepped up from the Challenge Tour at the end of 2018 along with Bob MacIntyre, David Law and Liam Johnston.

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Helped by two top-10 finishes in his first 11 events, as well as a top 15 in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, his card for the 2020 campaign had been secured after the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open in mid-July.

That allowed Forrest the luxury of using the second half of the season to implement a long-term plan to try and take his game to the next level as he left long-time coach Jonathan Porteous to start working with Robert Rock Academy-attached Liam James.

In his second event of the new campaign, the former Scottish Amateur champion produced his best effort so far on the main tour by finishing joint-fourth in the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open before backing that up with a top 20 in last week's Omega Dubai Desert Classic.

"The changes that Liam and I have brought into my game over the past six months are starting to take effect," said Forrest, who sits seven shots behind former US Open champion McDowell on five-under at Royal Greens Golf Club in King Abdullah Economic City. "I just feel more comfortable over the ball. It’s now just a case of how well I putt and how good my short game is.

“Since the start of this season, I have been playing every weekend and everything is trending in the right direction, so I am happy with that. The timing of the changes has also worked well as I sort of expected a bit of rough patch while we were undertaking the work at the end of last season. It is frustrating when you are trying to play and it’s not there.

"I found myself thinking of a lot of technical stuff when you are just trying to get the ball round in the least number of strokes. I took that longer-term view when I went into undergoing the changes and it’s starting to pay off now."

As is working on the mental side Tom King, a sports psychologist who works for Winning Golf Mind and Leicester City. "He was recommended to me," said Forrest. "It’s always just making small improvements on things you can do better and they all add up.

“I’ve been focusing only on what I can control and not trying to let other things affect it, like someone you’re playing with or anything else.

“I’m concentrating on preparing for my shots as best I can and take confidence from that as opposed to the score I’ve made on the hole because that’s pretty unstable as golf is so up and down."

Forrest's six-birdie salvo in the penultimate round in Saudi Arabia included a 2 at the 16th, a picturesque short hole that flanks the Red Sea.

He'd dropped three shots there on the opening two days and was delighted, therefore, to see his ball topple in on this occasion just when it looked as though it was going to hang on the lip.

"It started to fall and then stopped. I heard someone say ‘unlucky’ and then it dropped," he said, smiling of that puff of wind coming off the water at just the right time. “The 16th has caused a bit of trouble this week for me so to see the ball drop today was one of those breaks you can get when you are playing well."

Next best among five Scots to make the cut in the final leg of a three-event Middle East Swing, Richie Ramsay and Connor Syme carded matching 69s to sit joint-37th on one-under, two ahead of Stephen Gallacher (70) and Scott Jamieson (71).