Saturday, 05 July 2014
Kevin Stadler   (Getty Images)
Kevin Stadler (Getty Images)
American Kevin Stadler remains on course for a wire-to-wire victory in the Alstom Open de France after a testing third round which saw just three players break 70.

Stadler held a one shot lead after a flawless opening 64 and extended his advantage to three shots thanks to a second round of 68.

And although the World Number 62 shot a one over par 72 on Saturday, the wet and windy conditions meant he finished the day four ahead of France's Victor Riu and Thailand's Thongchai Jaidee.

Jaidee's 69 would have been even better if not for a bogey on the 18th, where he drove into the water, while US Open Champion Martin Kaymer is six off the lead after a 70.

"I think since the first day he's running away a little bit, so I guess he likes the golf course as much as I do," Kaymer said of Stadler, who won his first US PGA Tour title in Phoenix in February. "So I think it will be difficult to catch him.

"If the weather stays like this, I just need to shoot a very, very low score tomorrow. If you get within two or three shots of him, he might get some nerves the last three or four holes because it's a tough finish.

"But the way he plays golf and the way I know him, he's a very laid-back guy so it will be difficult to catch him. I can only try to shoot as low as I can to be happy with myself."

Stadler carded one bogey and eight pars on the front nine and that allowed Riu to claim a share of the lead when he recorded his second birdie of the day on the ninth.

At that point the 29 year old from Paris was the only player in the field not to have dropped a shot, but a bogey promptly arrived on the tenth after he drove into the water and Stadler holed from ten feet for birdie and a two shot swing.

Riu bounced straight back with a birdie on the 11th but then carded five bogeys and a birdie in the next six holes, managing his only par of the back nine on the 18th.

Stadler was far more consistent with seven pars and a bogey on the 17th, despite struggling with a back injury which flared up during the round.

"It's a little tight," the 34 year old said. "It's been a little out of whack all week. Luckily didn't give me a whole lot of trouble the first couple of days, but it today it turned up a bit. I'm still able to swing so should be fine.

"I got about what I deserved out of my game today. I didn't play that great, made a whole lot of pars and did not have nearly as many looks (for birdie) as I had the last couple days, but you can't expect to play that well for four days in a row.

"I knew I really didn't have to do anything crazy today. A couple less would have been nice, but overall I'm happy the way it went."

Defending champion Graeme McDowell is eight shots off the pace after a rollercoaster 73 which featured four bogeys, one double bogey and four birdies in the space of five holes from the fifth.

"It was tough to find a rhythm, it was playing pretty difficult," McDowell said. "It was nice to string a few birdies together and get myself back into it and as I made the turn I was feeling good about myself, my swing and my position in the tournament.

"My swing off the 10th and 13th tee has been haunting me a bit, I'm just not committing to those shots and missing them all left. I'm disappointed with that back nine (39) because I really felt like I swung the club decently today.

"All I can do is try to shoot a 66 or 67 and there's a 75 or 76 waiting for anyone on this golf course."

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1MCDOWELL, GraemeNIR18-5
T2STADLER, KevinUSA18-4
T2JAIDEE, ThongchaiTHA18-4
4KARLSSON, RobertSWE18-3
T5DONALDSON, JamieWAL18-2
T5BALDWIN, MatthewENG18-2

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