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Yannik Paul keeps his nose in front at Hero Indian Open

Yannik Paul keeps his nose in front at Hero Indian Open

Yannik Paul will take a narrow one-shot lead into the final round of the 2023 Hero Indian Open after bouncing back from a rocky start to sign for a 71 on Saturday.

Germany's Paul led by five at the halfway stage but made back-to-back bogeys at the second and third on day three to open the door for the chasing pack.

The 28-year-old bounced back brilliantly, though, reeling off a hat-trick of gains at the sixth, seventh and eighth to take a three-shot lead into the turn.

After making a good par save at the tenth, last week's Thailand Classic runner-up Paul created plenty of birdie chances over the next few holes but had to settle for pars.

There was a two-shot swing late in the day as Paul bogeyed the par-three 16th and fellow German Marcel Siem birdied the 17th up ahead, reducing Paul's advantage to a single shot.

Paul made a fabulous birdie three at the 17th to move two clear once more but after Siem made a birdie at the last, Paul could only manage a par there to head into the clubhouse on 11 under par.

Four-time DP World Tour winner Siem, who regained his card at the Qualifying School late last year, sat alone in second place on ten under after making six birdies and one bogey in his 67.

Dutchman Joost Luiten, who is a six-time winner, was another two shots back in third following his 68.

Midway leader Paul made a nervy start to his third round, following up a dropped shot at the second with another bogey on the par-three third having narrowly missed his par putt from the edge of the green.

He got a shot back at the sixth after sending his approach to close range and knocking in the putt.

And after making another birdie at the seventh from around five feet, Paul made it three in a row on the eighth.

Paul saved par at the tenth before giving himself two good birdie chances at the 11th and 12th but he could not convert them, and his lead was reduced to two shots by a charging Siem.

Paul made a stunning up-and-down for par at the difficult 14th after missing the green there, before passing up an outside birdie chance at the 15th.

A three-putt bogey on the 16th saw Paul drop his first shot of the week on the back nine, but he bounced straight back with a ten-foot birdie on the 17th to head to the 18th with a two-shot lead.

With Siem making a birdie from six feet at the last, sparking huge celebrations, Paul opted to lay up and he gave himself a birdie chance but had to settle for par after missing from inside ten feet.

Paul, who is aiming to become a two-time DP World Tour winner on Sunday, said: "With a five-shot lead, I knew there was still 36 holes to go. I obviously didn’t get off to the best start but I just tried to focus on myself. 

"There’s so much golf yet. I just tried to stay patient. I know on this course you’re going to get some bad breaks here and there. Six, seven, eight I had a couple of nice birdies and then played pretty solid on the back nine. 

"I hit a couple of great putts but they just seemed to slip by. Had some lip-outs from around eight feet, sometimes they go in, sometimes they don’t, it’s not in my control. 

“Short game is my strength, I would say. I gave myself a lot of chances and sometimes they go in, sometimes they don’t. I just tried to stay positive. I’m in a great position and I’m looking forward to playing with Marcel tomorrow. 

“Getting the win would be amazing. Such an iconic event here but I think that’s the hard part. You don’t want to think ahead, you want to stay in the present because 18 holes is a lot of golf left. I’ll just try to get some rest tonight and look forward to tomorrow.”

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