Richard McEvoy has put himself in with a chance of a long-awaited maiden European Tour title after an enthralling duel with playing partner Bryson DeChambeau on a stormy Saturday in Hamburg.
The 39-year-old from Essex shot a third-round 69 to share the lead on 12 under at the Porsche European Open with DeChambeau – one shot ahead of the latter’s fellow American, US Masters champion Patrick Reed, and Matthias Schwab.
It was a late finish at the Green Eagle Golf Courses because play was suspended as lightning flashed ahead for almost three hours during mid-afternoon.
Scot David Drysdale had an eventful round of mixed fortunes which concluded with a double-bogey seven on the last hole for a level-par 72.
By contrast, McEvoy’s compatriot Paul Casey finished with a flourish for a round of 69 to lie fifth – just ahead of Drysdale, Australian Scott Hend, Italy’s Renato Paratore and Frenchman Romain Wattel, all on eight under.
David Horsey is a third Englishman in the top 10 after completing his five-under round of 67 before the weather turned.
McEvoy made ground on the front nine, taking only 32 shots to edge ahead of DeChambeau – who had led the previous evening, battled back after the rain but then dropped a shot with a missed putt for par on the 16th.
His rival, a winner on the Challenge tour just last week, held his nerve with a solid run of seven successive pars to close out his long day in encouraging fashion despite the disappointment of missing his chance of a birdie on the last, while DeChambeau then took his to level up again.
“It was good. I was a little disappointed with the back nine, missed a few chances coming in on the last four holes or so, but the change in conditions made it quite tough,” McEvoy said on the European Tour website.
“My mind set will be much the same as last week. I’ve been playing very solidly, I’m enjoying being at the top of the leaderboard which is great and I’m not putting too much pressure on myself. I’m just playing golf, exactly like I did last week and I prevailed then so fingers crossed that I can finish it off again tomorrow.”
US Masters champion Patrick Reed may stand in McEvoy’s way on Sunday (Richard Sellers/PA Wire)
DeChambeau said: “I hung in there. On the front nine I had nothing, I was so happy the storm came through because that gave me a little time to get the game back in order and I was able to do that and play well on the back nine.”
Austrian rookie Schwab had returned after the hooter sounded during a mid-afternoon downpour to draw level with McEvoy by holing the shortest of birdie putts.
He then found trouble in the water to fall back on the 11th but recovered his composure to finish his round with a birdie and ensure he remained one of the most likely challengers to McEvoy’s bid for glory on Sunday.