On another day of tough scoring conditions at the Real Club Valderrama Open de España, Hosted by the Sergio Garcia Foundation, only Joost Luiten and Alex Noren recorded under par rounds.
With Valderrama now threatening to produce the first over par winner of a European Tour event since Justin Rose won the US Open Championship in 2013.
Paul Dunne and Peter Lawrie suffered no differently in round three with both Irishmen signing for over par rounds on Saturday.
The Greystones rookie came home in three over par after dropping three shots before the turn and just a single birdie – at the par five fourth – to complete nine holes in two over. With one more birdie on the par four 14th Dunne carded two more bogeys ending his day with a round of 74.
Lawrie was amongst the first group on Saturday morning and battled through the early stretch carding four bogeys by the halfway stage. Then five straight pars maintained some momentum from the tenth before the Dubliner dropped a shot on the par three 16th. Unable to do better than par on 16 and 17.
On the eighteenth a good drive went unrewarded when it clipped a tree to leave him unsighted and unable to better a bogey five on the last hole – for a round of 77 and share of 59th place.
“Conditions were far from easy again today, “said caddie Brendan McDaid walking off the final green “The leaderboard showed all day how tough the scoring was for the field today.”
“We left a few putts out there today which might have fallen our way,” continued McDaid, “But Valderrama was not in that kind of forgiving mood once more and gave up nothing.”
“It’s an exacting course in these type of conditions,” McDaid concluded, “But Peter is striking the ball well and with some luck we might have been a couple of strokes better on the day.”
Leader Mike Lorenzo-Vera will take a take a one-shot advantage into the final day as he goes in search of a first European Tour title. The Frenchman’s level par round of 71 saw him stay at one over par and lead ahead of Luiten, two-time Major Championship winner Martin Kaymer and England’s Andrew Johnston.
The highlight of Lorenzo-Vera’s day was his approach to the par five 17th for an eagle to spark a wild celebration and move him two ahead, before a bogey on the last cut the gap.
“I’m very excited,” he said. “I’m going to have a big nap tonight because it takes so much energy to stay patient here. I’m just going to try to relax and enjoy it as much as I can tomorrow.
“I’m just trying to look at the pace of the leader board and accept that you’re going to have a lot of bogeys here. A bogey on the hole is never really a bad score so you just try to accept it. Take the bogey and get out of there.”
The 31-year-old was number one on The Challenge Tour in 2007 and enjoyed his best ever European Tour season last term, finishing 78th on The Race to Dubai, but he will face a tough challenge on Sunday.
Dutchman Luiten is the only player in the field with two under par rounds this week and already has four top tens to his name this season, while Kaymer is an 11-time winner on The European Tour.
Johnston has held the lead on several occasions this week and will be brimming with confidence as he goes in search of a first European Tour win.
Defending champion James Morrison signed for a 74 to sit at three over alongside fellow Englishman Ross Fisher, with Spanish duo Pablo Larrazábal and Pep Angles a further shot back.
Lorenzo-Vera reached the turn in 35 before a birdie on the 12th thanks to a stunning flop-shot got him to level par and, when Johnston bogeyed the same hole, he found himself in a share of the lead for the first time.
All those at the top of the leader board were falling back and Lorenzo-Vera did the same with bogeys on the 15th and 16th, but his spectacular hole-out on the 17th catapulted him ahead before his disappointing finish.
Johnston had been battling for top spot with overnight leader Larrazábal in the early stages and held the lead on his own after birdies on the fifth and 11th but three bogeys in a row from the 12th saw him fall back.
Kaymer twice got to level par with back-to-back birdies on the fourth and fifth, and tenth and 11th, but both times gave the advantage back, while Luiten registered five birdies and four bogeys.
Fisher overcame a double-bogey on the 12th in his 72, while Morrison also fought back well after turning in 38.
Larrazábal endured a frustrating afternoon as he carded a 78, with Angles’ 74 enough to get him a shot ahead of Thomas Bjørn, Richard Bland, Alejandro Cañizares and Noren.
Peter Lawrie tees off on Sunday at 10:10hrs with Seve Benson and Alvaro Quiros.
Paul Dunne is off the first tee at 08:35hrs with Thomas Linard and Graeme Storm.