A top-two finish on Sunday would see Justin Rose reach the top of the world rankings for the second time this season. Photo: Matt Dunham/AP

LONDON – England’s Eddie Pepperell holds a commanding three-shot lead heading into the final day of the British Masters. 

Pepperell is chasing only the second European Tour title of his career and has a golden opportunity to lift the trophy after recording a third round of 71 at Walton Heath on Saturday.

He finished on nine-under-par, with fellow Englishman Jordan Smith, Sweden’s Alexander Bjork, American Julian Suri and France’s Julien Guerrier all six under.

A victory on Sunday would take Pepperell into the world’s top 35 and almost certainly secure a Masters debut in 2019. 

The top 50 at the end of the year are guaranteed a place in the first major of the year at Augusta National in April.

The 27-year-old began the day with a three-shot lead, and was four clear when he holed from 14 feet for an eagle on the par-five 11th.

The leading South African is Trevor Immelman, who is joint-fourth on three-under, six shots off the pace, after a 71 on Saturday.

Ryder Cup star Tommy Fleetwood is seven shots behind after rebounding from a 77 on Friday with a 70, while teammate and tournament host Justin Rose is another stroke adrift following a 69.

A top-two finish on Sunday would see Rose reach the top of the world rankings for the second time this season, the 38-year-old having spent two weeks as number one in September.

“That hasn’t actually been on my mind,” Rose said. “It’s going to be tough to get there as I’ve got a lot of points to defend, but I’ve just got to focus on playing well.”