David Law lost the lead but a back nine fightback left him still well in the mix for a maiden Challenge Tour title in the SSE Scottish Hydro Challenge.
The Aberdonian shot a par 71 at Macdonald Hotels’ Spey Valley course at Aviemore and slipped from first place but four birdies in his last six holes meant he was able to limit the damage and go into Sunday’s final round just one stroke behind co-leaders Stuart Manley and Pedro Figueiredo.
The 27-year-old former Scottish Amateur champion stayed on seven-under with Wales’ Manley – winner in France last week beating Scot Grant Forrest in a play-off – on eight-under with a two-under 69. Portugal’s Figueiredo, the winner at the Challenge Tour event two weeks ago in Belgium, also shot 69.
Both Manley and Figuiredo are aiming to be two-thirds of the way to a so-called “battlefield promotion” from the Challenge Tour to the European Tour for three wins in a season on the satellite circuit, while the 39-year-old Welshman, a former Walker Cup player, is aiming to be the first player in six years to win back-to-back events.
Law meanwhile is bidding for a first Challenge Tour title and after leading through 36 holes for the second time in three weeks it seemed to be slipping away with three bogeys and no birdies in his first 12 holes, dropping him four behind playing partner Figueiredo at one point.
However his patience was rewarded as he birdied the long 13th for the third day in a row, and then added a bonus birdie at the 15th.
He dropped another shot at the short uphill 16th but bounced back by picking up shots at each of the final two holes to lie one shot behind the leading pair, tied with Denmark’s Joachim Hansen, who shot a second successive 67.