A day after “finishing in an ambulance”, South Africa’s Jaco van Zyl carded a brilliant 64 to claim a two-shot lead heading into the final round of the Alstom Open de France.
Van Zyl fell victim to the daunting, water-dominated closing stretch at Le Golf National on Friday, finishing his second round with a bogey on the 17th and double-bogey on the 18th to squander a two-shot lead.
But the 36-year-old made no such mistake with a flawless performance on Saturday, carding three birdies on the front nine and four more on the back nine, the last coming from a matter of inches on the 18th.
“Today was really a phenomenal round,” said Van Zyl, who fired a hat-trick of birdies from the ninth for the second day running.
“I felt really comfortable from tee to green and made a couple of nice ones (putts).
“I was in a similar position yesterday and finished in an ambulance. It’s the sort of golf course where you can’t let your guard down and have to stay on top of things.”
Van Zyl is chasing a first European Tour title but believes he will benefit from the experience of 13 victories on the Sunshine Tour, adding on Sky Sports 4: “I think it will play a big role.
“At the end of the day it’s the same situation, the stage is a bit bigger. I have been in this situation a couple of times so hopefully tomorrow I can pull it through.
“I had surgery on both knees last year, which wasn’t great. You just don’t quite know what to expect coming out here but luckily I got off to a nice start at the beginning of the year and got the confidence building a little bit.
“I’m really looking forward to tomorrow.”
At 10 under par, Van Zyl led by two from Germany's Max Kieffer, who birdied four of the last seven holes in a flawless 65, with Austria's Bernd Wiesberger another shot back after a 66.
“It’s amazing and I did not really expect to shoot so low to be honest,” Kieffer said. “The course played a little easier today and I played very nicely.”
Kieffer has not missed the cut in any of his 17 events this season and has recorded four top-10 finishes, but is also seeking a first European Tour title.
“I feel like I am good enough to win and think I learned enough in the last few tournaments,” the 25-year-old added. “I just have to hit good golf shots tomorrow and we will see.”
Former US Open champion Martin Kaymer and home favourite Victor Dubuisson, who began the day in a share of the lead, both shot 69 to lie four off the pace alongside England's James Morrison, who went one better with a 68 despite a three-putt bogey on the last.
“I think tomorrow I will need a very good start if I want to have a chance,” Ryder Cup star Dubuisson told Sky Sports 4.
“I think you need to be two or three under par after six or seven holes because when you start the back nine, from 12 to 18 it’s really difficult to make birdies.”
Kaymer, who won the title in 2009 and shares the course record of 62, said: “I probably played better than the first two days but the putter was fairly cold today.
“I didn’t make any putts the first 10 or 12 holes but I gave myself many, many chances, so I have to build on that.
“I’ve shot low rounds on this golf course before. If I play the same way and the putter is the same as the first two days, then I have a chance.”