Santos in charge at Pravets
Hugo Santos is firmly on course to win the UniCredit PGA Professional Championship of Europe at Pravets Golf Resort and Spa, Bulgaria, after posting his third successive sub-par round.
The Portugese, who is attached to Villa Sol, goes into the fourth and final round three shots clear of the field after carding a three-under-par round of 69.
That puts him 11-under for the revived Championship, which was last contested in 2004 and carries a first prize of 10,000.
And, as on day one, Santos’ latest round over the new and much-acclaimed Peter Harradine-designed course was bogey-free.
Such has been his consistency, he has carded just one bogey – at the par four sixth in the second round.
Santos attributes that to his accuracy off the tee and said: “I didn’t miss a fairway today – that’s essential if you’re going to have a good round.”
He will looking to maintain that metronomic driving to withstand the expected challenge from his nearest pursuers, Holland-based Britons Ben Collier and Ralph Miller.
The left-handed Collier is two adrift after posting a one-over-par 73, and Miller a further shot behind following a one-under round of 71
Collier, the overnight leader who recovered from a shaky start, said: “I’m certainly not out of it.”
His task could have been even harder had he not finished the round with a flourish after carding three bogeys in the first six holes.
Another followed at the 11th but birdies at the 13th and 17th revived his hopes of victory.
By contrast, disaster at the par three 17th looks to have ruined Simon Edwards’ hopes of claiming the winner’s cheque.
Edwards, who is representing Wales, teed up for it on four-under – just two shots adrift of Santos.
But his tee shot ricocheted off one of the boulders flanking the island green and into the water.
Edwards, who had to settle for a double bogey and two-under-par round of 70, said: “I was going well until the 17th when the ball caught a gust of wind and went into the hazard. Nevertheless, I’d play the same shot again.”
Edwards reckons that setback has cost him the chance of overhauling Santos and added: “At nine-under, I’d be looking at him. But not at seven-under - that’s probably too much ground to make up.”
As well as harming his hopes of victory, the double bogey also cost Edwards the distinction of sharing the best round of the day with Frederic Cupillard of France.
Cupillard served notice of his intentions with birdies at the first two holes before following suit at the fourth, seventh, tenth, 13th and 18th.
However, the possibility of him equaling the course record of seven-under set by Miller in the second round were wrecked by a double bogey at the par four third and another at the 11th.