A stunning recovery from a double bogey on the back nine gave Frenchman Julien Quesne a sizeable lead heading into the final round of the Allianz Open de Lyon.
The 31 year old had a six at the par four tenth, but responded superbly with four consecutive birdies from the 11th for a four under par 67 in a cold, wet third round at Golf du Gouverneur.
At 13 under par overall he leads by four shots from Scottish duo Craig Lee and Chris Doak and Belgian Pierre Relecom.
Perhaps inspired by France’s victory over England in the Rugby World Cup before his round, Quesne gave himself a golden opportunity to claim his second European Tour title, following his victory in the 2009 Trophée du Golf de Genève.
At 28th in the Challenge Tour Rankings and with two events remaining after this week, Quesne has also given himself a very good chance to take the lion’s share of the €150,000 first prize and jump into the top 20 who gain a European Tour card for 2012.
“It was very hard in that weather today, especially with the heavy rain at the end, so I’m very happy to come away with a 67 and a four-shot lead,” he said. “I am playing very well and I just have to try and play the same again tomorrow.
“It was annoying to have a double bogey at the tenth – I hit my drive into rough and then hit my second shot in the water – but the way I recovered with four birdies was very pleasing.
“I am a little nervous for tomorrow, but once we start playing I’m sure those nerves will disappear. I can only do my best. When I won in Geneva I came from behind, so this is a different situation, but I hope I can keep calm and get the job done.”
Lee, whose 64 in the first round was the lowest of his Challenge Tour career, eagled the par five third for the second time in three days and held the outright lead at one point, but a bogey at the ninth halted his progress. A birdie at the 15th kept him in touch with the leader but he bogeyed the last to slip back.
“I feel disappointed because I got off to a great start,” said the 34 year old. “I was three under after five, but then I came to the eighth and had a 20ft putt for eagle, missed it and missed the birdie putt as well. Then I bogeyed the ninth, so those two holes really took the wind out of my sails.
“I had a few opportunities on the back nine but couldn’t take any, then I had a silly bogey to finish. But it’s really tough out there. The rain has made the rough so hard to get out of, and because it’s so cold the ball is not flying as far.
“Julien has been playing some great golf so if he keeps it up tomorrow he’ll be hard to catch. But four shots is not many over 18 holes and anything can happen. I just need to start well again and get a bit of momentum going.”
Federico Colombo of Italy was challenging Quesne all the way and had birdies at the third, eighth and 14th after bouncing back from a dropped shot at the first, but a double bogey at the last left him in a share of fifth at eight under.