Saturday, 21 April 2018
Day 3 Highlights - Trophee Hassan II

A closing birdie from Alvaro Quiros earned him a one-shot lead heading into the final round of the Trophée Hassan II but it was a congested leaderboard at Royal Golf Dar Es Salam.

The Spaniard entered day three with a one-shot lead at seven under and that was the way he left it as he goes in search of a wire-to-wire victory in Rabat to make it back-to-back winning seasons on the European Tour.

Before his triumph at the Rocco Forte Open - Verdura, Sicily last term, Quiros was intending to focus on the Challenge Tour after six years without a win on the European Tour.

But rounds of 67-70-72 put him one shot ahead of South Africans Christiaan Bezuidenhout and Erik van Rooyen, Finn Mikko Ilonen and Frenchman Alexander Levy and in pole position to claim European Tour victory number eight.

"I have to recognise that it felt a little bit like Russian roulette," said Quiros. "Suddenly great shot, suddenly not that good, but I have to really believe that I fought very nicely and that's the most important thing, especially with the pin positions that we have played today.

"I'm happy to finish in level par today because it was my tricky day, I want to think, so hopefully tomorrow will be a better day.

"I will need to see how my game is waking up tomorrow to believe in being able to shoot a decent score that allows me to fight for the title or not. That's why we are here, to be leading tournaments and being able to develop."

Ilonen carded the lowest round of the week so far with a 66 to surge through the field, with Bezuidenhout carding a 68, Levy a 69 and Van Rooyen a 71.

Jeunghun Wang - the 2016 champion - was then at five under alongside Canada's Austin Connelly, with 21 players within five shots of the lead.

Quiros and Van Rooyen both bogeyed the first but the 28 year old hit back on the second and made a brilliant approach to the third, with Quiros making the most of a fortuitous bounce to also make a gain.

An approach to four feet on the fourth but Van Rooyen in a share of the lead and while Quiros edged ahead with a four-footer on the sixth, he gave the shot straight back after going a long way right off the tee.

I'm happy to finish in level par today because it was my tricky day, I want to think, so hopefully tomorrow will be a better day - Alvaro Quiros

The duo held a two-shot lead at the turn and Levy was part of the chasing pack after playing the front nine in 34 after nice approaches to the third and seventh.

Van Rooyen got in bunker trouble on the tenth to drop to six under where Ilonen had set the clubhouse target after coming home in 32.

The five-time European Tour winner started with a bogey but made gains on the fifth, seventh, eighth, 11th, 12th and 14th, and a brilliant approach to tap-in range on the last meant he was the man to catch.

An eight-footer on the 12th moved Levy to six under and after par saves on the 13th and 14th - courtesy of a brilliant bunker shot - he hit a nice approach to seven feet on the 15th to share the lead.

He led on his own when Quiros was blocked out off the tee on the 13th and had to hole a 15-footer to drop just a single shot.

Levy sent his tee-shot left on the 17th to make it a four-way tie at the top with a bogey but Quiros rolled a right-to-lefter up the hill on the 15th to hit the front again before giving the shot straight back after a poor tee-shot on the next.

Bezuidenhout's chances looked to be gone when he fell seven shots off the lead with bogeys on the first and third but he birdied the fourth, sixth, seventh, 11th and 13th, and a closing gain saw him join Ilonen in the clubhouse at six under.

Quiros got on the green in two at the last for a closing birdie, with Van Rooyen also making a gain after laying up to get back a shot dropped on the 15th.

Wang holed three incredible putts on the last here to get into and then win a play-off for his first European Tour title two years ago and he was at it again on Saturday.

The South Korean had birdies on the second, eighth, 11th and 14th to go with a bogey on the tenth before he made a 40-foot double-breaker for eagle on the 18th to put him right in the mix.

Connelly started both his nines with bogeys but made birdies on the third, eighth and last.

Swedes Alexander Björk and Joakim Lagergen, Australian Andrew Dodt and Dutchman Joost Luiten were at four under.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1LEVY, AlexanderFRA18-8
2QUIROS, AlvaroESP18-7
T3PAVAN, AndreaITA18-6
T3BJÖRK, AlexanderSWE18-6
T3ILONEN, MikkoFIN18-6

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