By Matt Smith
Rasmus Hojgaard saw his record 36-hole advantage wiped out at the French Open ion Saturday before he bravely fought back to remain in the driving seat for a wire-to-wire victory.
The 21-year-old Dane suufered a quintuple-bogey eight at the par three second hole at Le Golf National.
The three-time DP World Tour winner carried a six-stroke lead into the weekend in France, but things with horribly awry early on as he found the water three times on the tricky second hole at the 2018 Ryder Cup venue.
He sank a 14-foot putt for an eight at the par three and when he followed that up with a bogey at the par five third, Hojgaard looked down and out, six-over par through the opening three holes. But he delighted the fans with a battling comeback, carding five birdies in the final 13 holes to limit the damage to a three-over 74.
That kept him top of the pile on 12-under, one clear of South Africa’s George Coetzee, who signed for a four-under 68 as he targets a sixth DP World Tour victory.
Thomas Pieters, a winner already this season at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, moved himself within touching distance of a seventh career title with a five-under 66, and he was joined on 10-under by Frenchman Paul Barjon whose third-round 70 kept his dreams alive of a debut victory in his home open.
Rasmus Hojgaard: “To be fair I was pretty far down mentally after that start, it was tough but I had to try tell myself that I’ve been playing good the past few days and I shouldn’t let it bother me too much. I just tried my best to stay in there and try hit some good shots.
“I was very proud of myself to be fair. It was obviously an annoying finish with a bogey on 18, 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 and I managed to make some birdies and still have the lead, so I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
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