Bob MacIntyre produced a blistering burst in the third round of the Nedbank Challenge in South Africa to give himself a chance to regain the upper hand in the battle for European Tour Rookie of the Year.
The 23-year-old from Oban reeled off eight birdies in his last 14 holes at Gary Player Country Club in Sun City as he carded a best-of-the-day seven-under-par 65 in the $7.5 million Rolex Series event.
The brilliant effort catapulted MacIntyre into a tie for 21st on two-under, one shot ahead of American Kurt Kitayama, the left-hander’s main rival in his bid to become the first Scot since Marc Warren in 2006 to be crowned Rookie of the Year.
Heading into the final round in the penultimate event of the season, MacIntyre sits 12th, one spot behind Kitayama, who was two ahead after jumping above the Scot following the Turkish Airlines Open, in the projected Race to Dubai rankings.
That means the title battle looks as though it is set to go all the way to the wire in next week’s DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.
An exciting finish is also inn store in Sun City, where South African Zander Lombard leads by a shot from compatriot Louis Oostzuizen and Belgian Thomas Detry on 11-under,
“I don’t want to sound cocky, but it (his current form) has been a long time coming,” said Lombard after backing up his opening rounds of 68 and 65 with a gutsy 72.
“I’ve really made big strides in how I do things on and off the golf course. It’s nice to get some feedback and some results from the hard work.”
Scott Jamieson, who finished second in this event two years ago and needed another big performance to take his season all the way to the finish, sits 11 off the lead after a 72.
“While I love this place and I always love to come down to South Africa, and while it is a great golf course, it is brutally frustrating,” said Jamieson.
“It’s the only way to describe it as you can hit great shots but not always get what you deserve but then it’s the same for everybody and it’s how you react to those react to those shots that determines how well you play this week.
“I am still trying to finish as high as I can but, unfortunately, it’s going to take a real special last round to make sure my season ends next week in Dubai and not tomorrow here.”
Richie Ramsay, who sits joint-45th on four-over after a 70, is also projected to come up short in his bid to climb into the top 50 in the Race to Dubai standings on Sunday night.
Meanwhile, Daniel Young, who lost to MacIntyre in the final of the 2015 Scottish Amateur Championship at Muirfield, has made a promising start in his bid to join him on the European Tour next season.
After the opening two rounds in the Qualifying School at Lumine in Spain, the Kingsbarns Pro Academy player sits joint-13th, having jumped 20 spots on the back of a three-under 69 on the Hills Course.
Young, who won the Eagle Orchid Scottish Masters on the PGA EuroPro Tour at Macdonald Spey Valley in Aviemore in the summer, signed for five birdies, with his only dropped shot coming at the par-4 fifth.
Rookie pro Euan Walker, who held the outright early on in the second circuit after reeling off four straight birdies but had to settle for a one-over 73, is next best among the Scottish hopefuls on three-under.
The Ayrshireman, who turned professional straight after the Walker Cup in September, had opened with a 67 before bursting out of the blocks on day two at the Tarragona venue but undid that good work by dropping four shots in four holes, including a double-bogey 7 at fifth, on his back nine to lie in a share of 40th spot.
Liam Johnston, who finished 148th in the Race to Dubai in his rookie season on the European Tour, is in joint-53rd on two-under after a 69 on the Lakes Course that included an eagle-3 at the second.
Craig Howie is next best among the Scottish card hopefuls afrer the Borderer produced a brilliant recovery.
He was four-over after four holes on the Lakes layout before making five birdies thereafter, coming home in 31, four-under, for a 70 to sit tied 65th on one-under.
With four rounds still to go in the marathon event that offers cards to the top 25 and ties, Marc Warren (72) and Ewen Ferguson (72) are in joint-79th on level-par.
England’s Toby Tree and Dane Benjamin Poke share the lead on nine-under, one ahead of India’s S.S.P. Chawrasia and Finland’s Sami Valikami.
Former Dunhill Links champion Michael Hoey and Matteo Manassero, the youngest winner of the BMW PGA Championship, are both down near the bottom of the leaderboard in the 156-strong field on seven-under.
The race, meanwhile, is already over for Jamie Donaldson, who hit the winning shot in the 2014 Ryder Cup at Gleneagles, after he withdrew, which was presumably down to an injury, following the second round.