Saturday, 30 June 2007

Reuters – Denmark’s Søren Hansen is hoping history repeats itself after taking a one shot lead after the third round of the Open de France ALSTOM at Le Golf National.

A five under par 66 – the best of a day which saw the leaders jostle for supremacy - moved Hansen to 206, seven under par and a stroke better than the halfway leader, England’s Simon Khan, who carded a 70.

Scotland’s Colin Montgomerie and Germany's Martin Kaymer are three strokes behind in third place on 209 with another Dane, Thomas Björn, India’s Jeev Milkha Singh and England’s David Lynn tied for fifth on 210.

Hansen won his only European Tour title, the 2002 Irish Open, just a few weeks after his namesake and fellow countryman, Anders Hansen, claimed the BMW PGA Championship.

With Anders returning to Wentworth Club in May to repeat his victory in this year’s BMW PGA Championship - The European Tour’s flagship event - Søren, who is currently languishing only 124th on the Order of Merit, is eyeing the €666,660 first prize at Le Golf National.

"It's a bit spooky," said Hansen with a wry smile, admitting that he had been expecting the question about the similarities to the two careers. "As well as Anders winning the 2002 BMW PGA Championship and me winning in Ireland four weeks later, we've had similar results on the Order of Merit for much of our careers. Last year I finished 34th and he was 33rd. In 2005 he was 35th and I was 36th.

"If I'm going to catch him this time, it's a good week to do it. If you believe in superstition then we'll see tomorrow."

All the talk at the Open de France ALSTOM this week has been about Montgomerie taking on Paul Casey's Ryder Cup caddie, Craig Connelly.

Leader Hansen has rung similar changes, taking on former European Number One. Lee Westwood's experienced 2006 Ryder Cup caddie John 'Scotchie' Graham, who has served in five matches against the United States.

Graham has the reputation for being one of the best readers of greens in the caddie ranks and he came in handy for a closing 30ft birdie putt. But it was all Hansen's own work on the par five third when he hit a three wood approach from 275 yards to just two inches for his eagle. He said: “I don’t think I’ve hit a better shot in my life."

Montgomerie made for the practice putting green after being held back by missing three short putts during his level par round of 71. The eight-time European Number One, who is confident he has regained the swing that won him seven of his Orders of Merits, is trying to end a 19-month victory drought.

"Tomorrow I have to prove I haven't forgotten how to win," Montgomerie said, recalling a moment 11 years ago when he showed that the winning touch is never too far away from the best in the game.

He said: “I won’t know about winning until tomorrow. It’s been a while, but I took three months off in 1996 and came out and won the Dubai Desert Classic with a shot I’ll always be proud of – a driver off the fairway to about ten feet at the last. Miguel Angel Jiménez said to me that day: ‘you never forget how to win’…and you don’t. tomorrow is a big day for me to go out and prove that I haven’t forgotten.”

Khan, who started the third round one shot ahead and finished one behind Hansen, admitted; “I am not unhappy with that. I hit a couple of crooked shots coming in but made a great birdie at the 17th when I chipped in. I was pleased with the way I finished.

“Søren is a quality player and that 66 today was a great score. Hopefully we can go out in the final group tomorrow and have a good game and fight it out for the title.”

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