At the end of a day dominated by French players, defending champion Jean-Francois Remesy and Jean Van de Velde find themselves tied for the lead with Argentina’s Eduardo Romero going into the final round of the Open de France.
Francois Delamontagne is only two strokes back after double bogeying the final hole but for much of the day, the huge galleries at La Golf National were treated to a enthralling third round as the three Frenchman jostled for position at the top of the leaderboard.
And with Gregory Havret also in the top ten, three shots off the lead, after a four under par 67, there will be plenty to cheer on the final day.
Twelve months ago Remesy ended a 35 year drought for a home winner of the Open de France, but that victory looks to have opened the floodgates as the event moves towards a thrilling conclusion.
Remesy made his move for back-to-back titles with a four under par 67 to lie on nine under par 204, while Van de Velde shot a 71. Romero, who led by two overnight following a sensational course record 62 in the second round, shot a 72 to prevent a French clean-sweep at the top of the leaderboard.
That kept alive the Argentine’s hopes of being the oldest winner on The European Tour, despite a closing bogey. Although Romero, whose sole occupation of the lead also disappeared with two short missed putts during the round, was disappointed with his finale, he still believes he is strong enough to outdo Irishman Des Smyth, who won the 2001 Madeira Island Open at 48 and 34 days.
Romero has already come close to being the oldest, having won the 2002 Barclays Scottish Open when only three days short of his 48th birthday.
"My mind is very good," said Romero, "I have one more day to go and I'm still up there. I am feeling fit and strong."
Remesy's move through the field delighted the gallery, even though the home crowd were dismayed to watch him also bogey the last and Delamontagne lose a chance of sharing the lead by double-bogeying 18.
"I'm well placed to take over from myself," joked Remesy. "The third round is always key. "It is great for French golf and the tournament for four home players to be in the top eight."
Van de Velde, the man who threw away the 1999 British Open title with a closing triple-bogey, can reclaim his tour card if he can continue his run that began with him leading the first round with a 64.
After three years injury misery and two reconstructive knee operations the 39-year-old is well placed to earn enough to be back on tour full-time next year after playing on invitations this campaign.
"Everything tomorrow is a bonus because only a few months ago I was in agony," said Van de Velde. "I will take whatever comes."