George Coetzee (Getty Images)
George Coetzee and Anders Hansen shared the lead in the Alstom Open de France when storms returned to force a suspension in the closing stages of the third round.
South African Coetzee and Denmark’s Hansen each improved their score by three today to reach seven under for the tournament.
That put them one clear of David Howell, four under for his round through 16, and two ahead of overnight leader Marcel Siem, who was struggling to build on back to back 68s.
Coetzee birdied the first and third for the second successive day and made up further ground at the ninth and 12th before giving a shot back immediately prior to the break in play.
Hansen, meanwhile, avoided any bogeys and picked up birdies on the second, fifth and tenth.
While the likes of Siem and Alexander Noren, who was back at two under with five to play, faltered, Englishman Howell surged up the leaderboard with five birdies.
Thongchai Jaidee and Raphaël Jacquelin were very much in the hunt at four under, with Henrik Stenson and Ian Poulter a shot further back.
There was a comical end to Graeme McDowell’s third round. With his birdie putt at 18 en route to the hole, the hooter sounded to inform players of the suspension in play. McDowell’s putt duly dropped and the Ulsterman sank to his knees in celebration, knowing that he would not need to return to complete his round.
A 71 put him six shots off the pace at one under.