Clarke Lutton ensured the Scottish flag keeps flying at the Ghala Open in Muscat after overnight leader Ted Innes-Ker slipped off the pace, going into the final round on Wednesday.
A good two shots behind at the start, Lutton returned a tidy four-under 68 to reach seven-under for the tournament, one ahead of England’s Luke Joy and two clear of Stuart Archibald and Lee Corfield.
Sixto Casabona-Navarro and Max Williams of England shared fifth on four under as three players, including 2014 MENA Tour champion Joshua White, were tied for sixth a further shot adrift at three under, raising the prospects of a thrilling finish coming down the stretch.
Lutton rattled off five birdies against a lone bogey (at the 14th) to keep his chances of winning the second event on the tour this season alive.
“It was a good, consistent round of golf as I never found myself in trouble out there,” said the in-form Scotsman, 27, who broke through for his first MENA Golf Tour victory at The Els Club earlier this month.
“I holed some nice putts for birdies, especially the ones at 16th from 25 feet and the other at the 18th from 15 feet, which kind of lifted my round.
“It feels great to be in this position going into the final round and will see what tomorrow brings.
“I am feeling pretty happy with my game, which is good.”
England’s Joy, who matched the day’s best score of a 68, said he played a lot better that he did in the first round.
“Just solid golf and very happy with my round,” said the Englishman, who is a two-time winner on the tour.
The Duke of Roxburghe’s son, Innes-Ker, just failed to recreate the brilliance of his first-round 67 and stumbled to a 78, slipping into a tie for 19th on one over.
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“I hit the ball in wrong places on the greens which made it difficult to roll in the putts. And that, perhaps, was the only difference from the first round,” said Innes-Ker, who is playing his fourth season on the MENA Tour.
“Maybe it was all due to the lack of course knowledge,” said the 31-year-old, whose 78 contained six bogeys, including four in a row from the sixth.
England’s James Allan backed up his opening round of 70 with a 75 to stay in front in the amateur
division, one shot ahead of Karim El Hali of Morocco.
Faycal Serghini carded a second round 77, joining fellow Moroccans Younes El Hassani, who returned back-to-back 73s, Mehdi Saissi and Karim El Hali in a four-way tie for the lead in the MENA Division.
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