Scotland’s Raymond Russell will take a one shot lead into the final round of the ALLIANZ Côtes d’Armor Open Bretagne after carding a level par 70 on day three.
Russell, who came fourth in the 1998 Open Championship, relinquished his advantage to Tom Whitehouse earlier in the day, but returned to the top of the leaderboard after the Englishman double bogeyed the last and had to settle for a two under par 68. Russell extended his lead to two shots when he birdied the par four 16th, but a dropped shot at the last cut it back down to one.
Whitehouse is alongside compatriot Sam Walker at seven under for the tournament at Golf Blue Green Pléneuf Val-André, as well as Sweden’s Fredrik Henge and Frenchman Victor Rui.
“I struggled with the greens today,” admitted Russell. “But if you’re still in the lead after a bad day you can’t be too disappointed. I’d rather be one ahead than one behind - the others have got to catch me.
“It’s a shame to finish with a bogey but I hit a bad tee shot, a bad second shot and a bad putt so that doesn’t usually end up with a par.”
Whitehouse said: “I had a slow start then hit a really good tee shot at the seventh and managed an eagle. I holed another good putt at the eighth and I was off and running. I birdied the 11th and 12th and had chances after that but didn’t take them.
“Then at the 18th I was unlucky. I hit a good tee shot which sent the centre of the fairway and kicked dead left into a bunker. I was right up against the face of the bunker and I ended up taking a third shot to get on to the green and three-putting.
“I played well though and I deserved to shoot four or five under. I’m not too disappointed about the last hole because I didn’t really hit a bad shot all day and it’s tricky out there. That’s just golf.”
Henge, a five time winner on the Challenge Tour, recovered spectacularly from illness on day two to burst up the leaderboard, and followed it with a solid round of 68 to stay in contention.
He said: “Yesterday’s round was interesting because I had some bad food the night before and my stomach was upset, but I took a pill after nine holes and played the back nine in six under. I felt a lot better and it’s easy to feel well again when you’re making so many birdies.
“I played alright today, although I got away with a few mistakes and missed a couple of chances. I’m not really surprised the leaders haven’t got far ahead because I know what it’s like to play in the last groups and there is definitely more tension. Today the wind is tough and the course is getting firmer and firmer so it’s not easy out there.”
Home hope Rui, who carded a 69, added: “My long game is very good and so is my putting, but I was very unlucky on the greens today. It would be great to win the tournament and even better if it comes in my home country.”
Another Englishman, Andrew Willey, is one of four players a further shot back at six under after signing for a superb five under par 65. “That was the best I’ve played all week,” said Willey, who carded seven birdies. “Both the bogeys I had were three putts which were a bit silly but apart from that I’m very happy.”