Saturday, 07 July 2001
England’s Kenneth Ferrie blitzed his way to a nine under par 63 to lead after three rounds of the rain-delayed Challenge Total Fina Elf at Joyenval near Paris.

The burly 17st six-footer finished on 17 under par 199, two strokes ahead of Scotland's David Drysdale and three clear of another Englishman, Andrew Marshall.

Torrential overnight rain delayed the third round for five-and-a-half hours. Around 90mm of rain, a record for the area, flooded several fairways and many bunkers so that instead of play starting at 8.30am local time, it eventually began at 2pm from the first and 10th tees with preferred lies.

The hot and humid weather of the previous two days gave way to dull, overcast and chilly conditions with drizzle arriving late to bring a miserable end. But it didn’t stop Ferrie.

Marshall looked like finishing top of the leaderboard after signing for a nine-birdie 64. But Ferrie staged a grandstand finish, picking up four strokes in his closing three holes with two birdies and an eagle-three at the last.

"I'm really hitting it good at the moment and I only missed one green today," he said. "I have been playing well most of the season but I have not been putting well.

"Today it felt really easy and I hit it close at most holes. It's a nice way to warm up for the Open qualifying and I'm going to go out and try to win tomorrow." Ferrie's effort would have been a course record but for preferred lies.

Drysdale, who shared the lead overnight, had seven birdies in a 67 and is enjoying a rich vein of form. "I feel 20 under will win and that's my target," he said.

Spain’s Alvaro Salto and Gianluca Baruffaldi from Italy, who shared the overnight lead with Drysdale, had mixed fortunes. Salto finished with 70 and a share of fourth place on 204 with Christophe Pottier from France and Sweden’s Marten Olander, who followed up his second round 65 with 66.

Baruffaldi could do no better than 72 to drop back to equal eighth on 206 with another Spaniard, Jesus Maria Arruti, who returned 71.

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