Hard work is paying off for England's Chris Wood
Wood carded a third round of 68 at Barseback Golf and Country Club to finish nine under par, a shot ahead of Italy’s Renato Paratore and France’s Benjamin Hebert.
Denmark’s Thorbjorn Olesen is a shot further back after a lost ball on the 18th led to a double-bogey six, with halfway leader Jamie Donaldson struggling to a 75 to fall three off the pace alongside Max Orrin and Wang Jeunghun.
Wood began the day four shots off the lead, but made the ideal start with a birdie on the first and picked up another shot on the fifth before dropping a shot on the sixth.
A birdie on the par-five ninth took Wood to the turn in 34 and the 29-year-old from Bristol followed it with three more in the next four holes and another on the 16th before failing to get up and down from a bunker on the last.
“I’ve played nice all year without getting any results so in my mind it’s a matter of time before I start getting some decent results,” Wood said.
“The wind in the pro-am on Wednesday afternoon threw me out a bit and I struggled Thursday, battled round in one over and have been working hard late at night with some drills in the gym just trying to get a bit of a feel for the swing back and it’s getting there.”
Wood could only finish 49th in the defence of his BMW PGA Championship title at Wentworth last week, but a fourth European Tour title today would be the ideal response that would also secure a place in the US Open.
The top 60 in the world rankings on 12 June will qualify for the year’s second major at Erin Hills, with Wood currently 68th.
“It was a busy week for me last week but driving home with my wife without the trophy was really difficult,” Wood added. “We got a great winner in Alex [Noren] but I’ll be back next year trying to get the trophy back.”
Olesen had held the lead after carding three birdies and an eagle in the space of seven holes from the sixth, but bogeyed the 14th and double-bogeyed the 18th after two wild drives.
“It was going well there for a moment,” Olesen said after a round of 70. “Obviously five under would have been a nice round but I hit a couple of really poor shots down 18 and it was a good four with the second ball, so that’s a little positive I can take out of it.
“I had three or four shots where I lost a little bit of concentration in my backswing and that cost a few really bad shots. I just have to go out there tomorrow and trust it a little more.”
Donaldson began the day with a two-shot lead and recovered from two early bogeys with birdies on the seventh and ninth, but dropped shots on the 12th and 14th.
“Bogeying fives where you can get on in two is pretty criminal and I didn’t finish the way I wanted to,” said Donaldson, who claimed the winning point in the 2014 Ryder Cup at Gleneagles. “A slightly cold putter, which I hope to sort out now, and if it warms up I’m only three back.”