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Rasmus Højgaard keeps his nose in front after roller-coaster third round

Rasmus Højgaard keeps his nose in front after roller-coaster third round

Rasmus Højgaard battled back from a disastrous start to his third round to sign for a hard-fought 74 and head into the final day of the 2022 Cazoo Open de France with a slender one-shot lead.

Rasmus Højgaard

Højgaard's six-shot overnight advantage evaporated completely within the first three holes on Saturday as a damaging quintuple-bogey eight at the short second and a bogey on the par-five third saw him slip from the summit, having found the water four times in two holes.

He quickly regained his composure, picking up birdies at the sixth and eighth to recover the outright lead, as well as producing a series of par saves to keep his nose in front.

He then mixed three birdies with two bogeys on the back nine to go into the final round on 12 under par and in a good position to secure a wire-to-wire victory at Le Golf National.

George Coetzee finished his third-round 68 with a brilliant birdie to close within one shot of leader Højgaard.

Home favourite Paul Barjon and Belgian Thomas Pieters were another shot further back in a tie for third on ten under.

Meanwhile, Sean Crocker made a hole-in-one at the par-three 11th, holing his tee-shot from 169 yards with a seven iron.

Højgaard started the day with a huge lead but saw his advantage trimmed to a single stroke after visiting the water three times at the par-three second and running up an eight.

The shell-shocked Dane found water once again with his tee-shot at the next hole and made a bogey there to slip back to nine under and drop out of the lead altogether, with Barjon birdieing the same hole to move one shot ahead.

Højgaard steadied the ship with a par from six feet at the fourth, and with playing partner Barjon dropping a shot there, he regained a share of the lead.

He holed his 13-foot birdie putt at the sixth before producing a great up and down from a tricky spot in the rough for par on the seventh.

Højgaard took the outright lead after sending his tee-shot at the short eighth to 15 feet and rolling in the putt.

After another solid par save on the ninth, he took advantage of the par-three 11th, making his third birdie of the day to jump to 12 under and move two clear.

He was unable to save par at the 12th and saw his lead reduced to one shot once more but he did prevent further damage with a good save after missing the fairway at the 13th.

Højgaard's decision to lay up at the long 14th was rewarded, with a birdie there taking him back to 12 under, and he saved par at the 15th and 16th to remain there.

A tremendous birdie putt from around 30 feet moved Højgaard to 13 under before a bogey on the last meant he had to settle for a one-shot lead as he bids to win his fourth DP World Tour title.

He said: "It was tough but I had to try to tell myself that I'd been playing well the first two days and I shouldn't let it bother me too much.

"So yeah, I just tried my best to stay in there and try to hit some good shots after that.

"I was very proud of myself, to be fair.

"Obviously an annoying finish there with a bogey on the 18th but it was a tough grind. I'm proud that I stayed in there and made a few birdies along the way.

"It's obviously not the Saturday I wanted but at the same time I'm just happy that I stayed in there, managed to make some birdies and I still have the lead. So I'm looking forward to tomorrow.

"I'll just be patient (on Sunday). I showed out there today that by being patient I managed to make a few birdies and not let it affect me too much. Hopefully I'll get off to a better start but I'll stay patient and trust what I'm doing.

"Every win you get along the way in your career is amazing and I would love to add this one."

Coetzee carded five birdies and two bogeys on day three, closing with a gain - which came courtesy of a delightful approach - to secure a two-shot swing and cut the gap from three to one.

He said: "I think it’s one of the best courses we play and it just catches my eye and keeps me focused.

"That’s what I try to do better every day, stay focused and not doze off and forget to play golf.

"I’m a bit too laid back sometimes and this golf course definitely demands that you stay focused."

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