Henry Hayward, Josh Berry and Will Horne lead the way going into the final day of the Carris Trophy.
But with all 50 competitors to make the cut separated by just five shots and 36 holes to come in a dramatic finale, the winner could yet emerge from anywhere in the field.
Hayward – playing out of Kedleston Park in Derbyshire – posted five birdies and two bogeys in a round of 67 (-3).
Essex’s Horne was also steady for his relatively stress-free round of 67 – four birdies spoiled by just the one blemish on his card at the 12th.
Berry’s round produced more fireworks. The Yorkshire golfer started with an eagle at the opening hole and followed that up with a birdie at the second hole. Four more birdies followed along with four bogeys as he too signed for a 67.
All three golfers were content with the scores even if they took different routes – but all accept that the hard work has only just begun.
Hayward (main image) said: “It was a good round and I got off to a solid start. I didn’t have my best stuff and it was a grind to get it round.
“I holed out from 40 yards on the second for a nice bonus and from then on the fairways I did hit, I was able to knock it close and roll in some 15 and 20-footers.
“I should be last group out and I need to do what I’m doing.
“I do watch the leaderboard and I do like the pressure.”
Horne was the first player to post a score of 67 after starting his round with a birdie and settling into a good rhythm.
The Essex golfer (pictured above) admitted his nerves were jangling on the first tee, but he soon settled down and is eager to see what tomorrow brings.
“It’s the start I wanted, I’m pretty happy, “ said the leftie.
“There was adrenaline flowing on the first tee and once I got it down the middle and on the green it was go from there.
“We had a good schedule lined up and then events were knocked off – this was one of the big ones left and I’m really happy to play in it.”
Berry is the baby of the trio at the top of the leaderboard – a year younger than his rivals at the age of 15.
But he has plenty experience having played for England Under 16s and competed this summer in both the English Men’s Amateur and the Brabazon Trophy.
Having missed the cut at the Amateur by two shots and by just one at the Brab, he knows his game is sharp enough to compete this week.
Berry said: “I played alright and was solid tee to green. I just threw in a couple of silly mistakes.
“I’ve always worked hard and now I’m working smarter to make sure my course management is better. I’ve always made plenty of birdies it’s now a case of limiting the bogeys.”
One player who is particularly driven to play well on the final day is England boys’ squad member Remy Miller.
The Cheshire golfer jets off to El Paso on Tuesday to prepare for his first term at the University of Texas and would love to sign off from English boys’ golf on a high.
“This is my last ever boys’ event so there’s something extra on it,” said Miller who is tidily placed alongside a clutch of players, including England mate Jack Bigham, at -2.
“I’m happy with how I’m playing. I was three under and dropped back to level through 14 and then birdied 15 and 18. The bogeys were used as motivation to finish under par as it would have been criminal otherwise,” added Miller.
For details of today’s scores and tomorrow’s tee times check out the championship homepage.