Saturday, 02 September 2017
Birgir Hafthorsson  (Getty Images)
Birgir Hafthorsson (Getty Images)

Birgir Hafthorsson will take a remarkable seven-shot lead into the final day at the European Challenge Tour’s Cordon Golf Open after a six under par third round of 64 took him to 18 under par at Golf Blue Green de Pléneuf Val Andre.

Following the delayed completion of the second round, the Icelander started Round Three four shots ahead of Christofer Blomstrand and extended that advantage with a birdie on the second hole.

A couple of dropped shots followed but any signs of a wobble were soon banished as back-to-back birdies preceded an eagle on the seventh before another birdie streak at the start of his back nine saw the Hafthorsson show continue.

A closing birdie felt like an inevitability after three days where the 41 year old has seemed to be playing a different course to anyone else – for reference, the winning total in the ten previous stagings of the tournament has only been better than ten under par on four previous occasions, with Benjamin Hebert’s 15 under par the lowest ever winning score.

History beckons for Hafthorsson, who will approach the biggest day of his career knowing that a significant victory for both him and for Icelandic golf beckons.

“What can I say, it was a really, really good day,” he said. “It’s probably the best golf I’ve ever played, which is nice to come at this age, so let’s hope it can continue tomorrow.

“Tomorrow is the biggest day of my career. I’ve never won, so that would be nice – I’ve won back home but never out here, so that would really be something.

“My putter is still going so well, and I’m hitting my two iron really well, hitting a lot of fairways and making a lot of putts, but as soon as you start to be too protective, the bogeys can start to come.

“This course is really like that – you can get it going but also all of a sudden you can screw it up, so it’s fun, that’s how it is on this course.

“I think it was a great achievement when I made it to the European Tour, and there’s an Icelandic girl who has made it to the LPGA Tour, which is a great achievement too, but as a personal achievement it would be great.

“It’s always tough mentally to be so far in front and I’ll really need to stay focussed and not think about too much, but you’re always going to think a little bit ahead – I’ve just got to make sure I’m ready when tomorrow comes.”

Sharing a fairly distant second place are Matt Ford and 2013 Cordon Golf Open winner Andrea Pavan, who both signed for rounds of 66 to reach 11 under par.

Finnish teenager Oliver Lindell is one shot further back in fourth place, aided by back-to-back eagles to start his back nine, with Marcel Schneider and Mark Tullo in a share of fifth place on nine under par.

Adrien Saddier, runner-up in last week’s Rolex Trophy, is the leading Frenchman on home soil but starts the final round 11 shots off the lead in a tie for eighth place.

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