Marc Farry will attempt to become the first French winner of the Novotel Perrier Open de France for 32 years as he takes a one shot lead into the final day at Lyon Golf Club.
The second round was finally completed after heavy rain on Friday and overnight delayed the re-start until 3pm local time with Farry on seven under par 133 and one shot ahead of compatriot Gregory Havret and Denmark’s Anders Hansen. Both the third and fourth rounds are due to be completed on the final day.
The last Frenchman to win the Open de France was Jean Garaialde at St Nom la Breteche in 1969. Farry has twice led this tournament, the oldest in continental Europe, but victory has so far eluded him. But, having resumed his second round at the tenth, the 41 year old picked four birdies in his last eight holes for a round of 68 and clear of the chasing pack.
“It was very difficult getting up so early and then playing so late,” he said. “It is amazing – the course has dried so well and the greens are fantastic. I putted very well, which is unusual for me, and took only 29 putts.
“I’m not so nervous and will take the last day as it comes. It is always nice to lead in you home country.”
The loyalty of the home fans will be divided between Farry and the 24 year old Havret who concluded a round of 67. A hat-trick of birdies from the second, his 11th, and then a fourth on his final hole helped the three time French Amateur Champion climb the leadrerboard.
Havret, coached by French professional Anne le Connait and a graduate of the Qualifying School after turning professional in 1999, said: “I’m very happy and have made the cut in all eight tournaments this year. Waiting eight hours was difficult but it is the same for everyone. I’m looking froward to tomorrow.”
Hansen saved his par on the last despite finding the water with his second shot to remain a stroke off the pace after a round of 68, two under par. The Dane has been there and thereabouts on a number of occasions and now feels ready to make the winning breakthrough.
“You have got to get up there a couple of times in order to make it. You have to try to be up there, feel the pressure and learn from that. Today I was up there and felt down the stretch that I was hitting good shots all the way. Putts didn’t go in except on the last. Hit a great drive there and three wood but it wasn’t enough club.
“I’m up there with two French guys so let them take the pressure and see what happens.”
Eight players lie a further shot back including double Masters champion Jose Maria Olazabal who birdied the 17th on his way to a one under par 69.
“My putting was no good today,” said the pre tournament favourite. “ I left everything short. Made a good putt on the ninth, my first and then the only other putt I made was on the 17th from 12 feet at the most. I didn’t strike the ball well today. I wasn’t feeling comfortable today on the course. Missed quite a few tee shots.
“What I am most concerned about is the way I was striking the ball today. I struck the ball much better yesterday. It was a so so day today. That’s what I don’t like to see. I will go to the driving range and see if I can get some of the feel back.”
After all the rain delays over the first three days 36 holes are due to be played tomorrow, the third round starting at 7.10am local time. A total of 80 players survived the halfway cut.