Nothing Bland about Jordan’s year – will his second win of season be Made in Denmark?

ROYAL Liverpool’s Matthew Jordan’s breakout season continues as he takes a share of the lead into the final round of the Made in Denmark Challenge, on Saturday.

The 23-year-old, who is playing in his first season on the European Challenge Tour, has carded opening rounds of 65, 68 and 66 to sit in a five-way tie for the lead on 17-under par.

The former Walker Cup player began his campaign for a European Tour card on a high note, with a top 10 finish at the season-opening Turkish Airlines Challenge.

The Merseyside native passed up the chance to play a second Walker Cup at his home club in September by turning pro at the end of last year, having won the Lytham Trophy by nine strokes – he also won the 2017 St Andrews Links Trophy at the Home of Golf.

And Jordan announced himself to the golfing world in May by taking the first round lead at the Betfred British Masters at Hillside – just a sbort drive from where he grew up.

With wind in his sails, Jordan notched consecutive top 10s on the Challenge Tour in France and Spain, before capturing his first victory at the Italian Challenge Open Eneos Motor Oil, in June.

Currently occupying the third position on the rankings, a win tomorrow would go a long way towards cementing his European Tour card.

But Jordan – whose first big win as an amteur came at North Hants in the Hampshire Hog in 2016, acknowledged there is still much to be done at Ry Golfklub Silkeborg, where scoring has been low all week, and his game plan will remain unchanged.

“Within myself, I’m trying to play as aggressively as possible without being silly,” Jordan said. “Whether I’m last or first, to be honest I’m still going to do the same thing.

“It’s difficult because you know everyone is making birdies out here and because everyone is, you put pressure on yourself then to try and make birdies.

“I think that’s the actual challenge this week, is to try and stay patient and try to be aggressive. You’ve got to make birdies otherwise it feels like you’re going backwards.”

Sharing the lead with Jordan is Finland’s Roope Kakko, who was in front of the field for most of the day before a double-bogey on the 17th hole dropped him back to the field.

Despite the miscue, Kakko remains happy to be competing after being hospitalised only two weeks ago with reactive arthritis.

“I wasn’t too disappointed after 17 to be honest,” Kakko said. “These things happen. It’s a long tournament – there’s one round to go and you can’t get too down on yourself.

“I’m just happy to be playing tournament golf and to be tied for the lead. I’m just happy, and I’ve got a great opportunity tomorrow.”

The low round of the day, and of the tournament so far, was carded by Hampshire’s Richard Bland, who made 10 birdies and an eagle on his way to an 11-under par 61, which moved him up 51 places into a share of the lead.

The 46-year-old from Southampton is positioned ahead of Jordan in the money list, and a win could move him to the top spot.

Rounding out the five players who share the lead are Scotland’s Calum Hill, who has recorded a win and a tied-third place finish in his last two starts on the Challenge Tour – and Sweden’s Joel Sjöholm, another proven winner on at this level having won in 2017.

Much like its counterpart event on the European Tour, the Made in Denmark Challenge continues to break the mould.

This year in Skanderborg, the field has been cut to the top 45 professionals and ties for the last day, which fell at 10-under par.

Due to expected weather, the final round starting times have been moved up, and are set to begin at 7:30am local time, from both the first and 10th tees, with the last group of Sjöholm, Bland and Hill set to go at 8:50 am.

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