Marc Warren’s momentum was halted by a double bogey after he’d moved to the top of the leaderboard but the Scot is still very much in contention heading into the final round of the Portugal Masters.
An exciting last day also lies in store for Connor Syme in Villamoura after the 23-year-old continued his promising start in the professional ranks by moving into the top 20 on the back of a third straight sub-par effort.
Warren, who had began the day a shot behind overnight leader Nino Bertasio, found himself out in front after picking up three birdies in the first four holes to move to 14-under-par at Dom Pedro Victoria.
The 36-year-old led by two at that stage but he then dropped two shots at the seventh after finding water and parred the next 11 holes for a 70, leaving him joint third on 201.
He’s two shots off the lead, held by Lucas Bjerregaard after the Dane birdied two of the last four holes for a 68, with South African George Coetzee (67) a shot behind and Eddie Pepperell (68) and Nino Bertasio (71) both alongside Warren in a share of third.
Warren is chasing a fourth European Tour triumph but, failing that, a high finish would be a big boost in his bid to climb from 173rd in the Race to Dubai into the all-important top 100 before the end of the regular part of the season next month.
The East Kilbride man has only started to play pain-free in the past few weeks after injuring himself earlier in the season and he is beginning to show signs of the form that got him into the top 50 in the world a couple of years ago.
Syme only turned professional last Monday after signing for Modest! Golf, the management company set up by Niall Horan, the One Direction pop band member. However, the 23-year-old Fifer has handled the first test in his new career so far like a seasoned campaigner.
The only one out of six GB&I Walker Cup team members playing in the event as newcomers in the paid ranks to make the cut after rounds of 68 and 69, Syme didn’t put a foot wrong as he added a 68.
On eight-under, the Drumoig man is tied for 10th alongside Scottish No.1 Russell Knox, who signed for an eagle and four birdies in his 67, and Scott Jamieson (69). Paul Lawrie, the other Scot to make it to the weekend, sits joint 51st on four-under after a 71.
Elsewhere, Scott Henry slipped six shots off the lead as his bid for a second Kazakhstan Open victory was dashed by three bogeys in a row in the middle of the back nine in Almaty.
Henry, the 2012 winner, had started the day just one shot off the lead in the Challenge Tour major and was level-par for his round until dropping shots at the 13th, 14th and 15th. The 30-year-old from Clydebank had to settle for a 74, leaving him in a tie for 15th on eight-under alongside Grant Forrest (70) on a day when South African Erik van Rooyen moved into top spot with a 68.
Jamie McLeary and Bradley Neil, the top Scot on the second-tier circuit this season in ninth position on the Road to Oman, both posted 70s to sit on six and five-under respectively, with Jack Doherty on three-under after his 72.
On the ladies’ front, a Spanish shoot-out is on the cards in the final round of the Andalucia Costa Del Sol Open after home players Carlota Ciganda and Azahara Munoz jumped ahead of overnight leader Georgia Hall at Real Club de Golf Guadalmina.
As Hall, one of the shining lights for Europe in last month’s Solheim Cup defeat in Des Moines, relinquished her overnight lead following a 71, Ciganda and Munoz carded matching 67s in the third round to move to 16-under. They are three shots clear of Hall, with South African Lee-Anne Pace (70) a shot further back in fourth.
Playing for the first time under her married name, Pamela Pretswell Asher dropped from 10th at the halfway stage to 12th after signing for a 70.
On seven-under, she is nine behind the joint leaders. Carly Booth (72) is next best among four Scots still standing on two-under.