Several players defied windy conditions at Le Golf National to make early inroads on overnight leaders David Howell and Anders Hansen in the final round of the Alstom Open de France.
As Howell and Hansen, six under after round three, made their way to the first tee, a host of birdies had been recorded on the opening stretch of holes.
Howell’s fellow Englishman Ian Poulter birdied the first to climb into a tie for fourth at four under, one behind South Africa’s George Coetzee.
Poulter, home favourite Raphaël Jacquelin and Marcel Siem were soon joined on that mark by Sweden’s Alexander Noren, who made up ground at the second and third, and South Africa’s Retief Goosen, three under for his round through four.
Søren Kjeldsen and Justin Rose were well placed on three under, having recorded two birdies apiece.
Lee Westwood, meanwhile, was able to play on after hurting his right knee and groin before yesterday’s third round.
The World Number Three slipped as he walked to the tee and looked in danger of pulling out after dropping seven shots in his first six holes, but he battled on to a 76 and made a far better start this morning.
Westwood turned in a level-par 36, then birdied the 383-yard tenth to stand five over par.
Two further birdies and two bogeys on his inward nine saw the Englishman card 70.