The Press and Journal (Inverness, Highlands, and Islands)
Poke’s flurry of birdies edges Dane into the lead
Benjamin Poke extended his lead to two shots on day three of European Tour Qualifying School, as the six-round marathon tournament reached the halfway stage.
The Dane, who recently completed a strong rookie season on the Challenge Tour, carded four birdies and only one bogey to sign for a three-under-par round of 69 on Lumine Golf Club’s Hills Course.
The 27-year-old began the day sharing the Final Stage lead but finished with two late birdies to reach a three-round total of 12 under par – two shots clear of his nearest competitor, Lars van Meijel.
Poke said: “It was nice to finish with a flurry of birdies. I was hitting greens from the start but leaving myself some long putts. By the time I got to the back nine I was striking them better and hitting my approach shots a bit closer and I managed to take advantage of that over the closing holes.
“I haven’t really looked at the scoreboards this week or checked online after the round to see how
I’m doing and I’ve been watching snooker over the last few days in the evening to take my mind off things.
“It’s a new day tomorrow so I’m going to try to approach things the same way, enjoy being out here and I’m looking forward to playing the next few days. I’m trying not to think about the top 25 at the moment as I can’t control what other players are doing. I can only try to control how I play and we’ll see where it all ends up at the end of the week.”
Dutchman van Meijel, who also narrowly missed out on graduating to the European Tour after a strong campaign on the Challenge Tour, converted six birdies and an eagletwo on the Hills Course’s par-four 12th hole, to sign for a seven-under-par 65 and move 39 places up the leaderboard.
Sharing third place on nine under par are India’s SSP Chawrasia and overnight joint-leader Toby Tree of England.
Scottish duo Euan Walker and Daniel Young are sitting tied 26th at the halfway point on five under with Marc Warren one shot further back.
Craig Howie is three under and Ewen Ferguson is two under, while Liam Johnston, sitting tied 121st on two over, will be looking for a low round today.
The field will be reduced to the top 70 and ties following today’s fourth round. Any player surviving the 72-hole cut will be guaranteed a European Challenge Tour card for the 2020 season with the top 25 after six rounds earning a place on the European Tour.