Colsaerts seizes three-shot French Open lead

Colsaerts is in pole position to end his title drought (AFP Photo/Paul ELLIS)
Colsaerts is in pole position to end his title drought (AFP Photo/Paul ELLIS)

Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines (France) (AFP) - Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts will take a three-shot lead into the final round of the French Open after a four-under-par 67 on Saturday, as he looks for his first European Tour title in seven years.

The 36-year-old, who was part of Europe's winning Ryder Cup team at Medinah in 2012, poured in five birdies to move clear of playing partner George Coetzee of South Africa.

Colsaerts has not managed a top-10 finish since February and has slipped to 424th in the world rankings.

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"I'm a bit on a mission. I have a lot to play for," he said, after arriving at Le Golf National sitting 114th on the season-long Race to Dubai standings and battling to keep his tour card for next year.

"It's not like actually winning this tournament is at the forefront of my mind.

"I still have to play shots. It got a little bit easier at the end but it's a difficult course to play."

Colsaerts' last victory came at the Volvo World Match Play Championship in May 2012.

He briefly saw his lead cut to two strokes with a bogey on the 17th, but he birdied the dangerous last hole to remain in total control on 13-under for the tournament.

Coetzee remains his closest challenger on 10-under after battling to a one-under 70.

The world number 289 made three straight birdies at the start of the back nine, but followed those with a double-bogey on the par-four 13th and never fully recovered, finishing with five straight pars.

"I was hoping it would continue but came to an abrupt halt on 13. Kind of the way I've been playing this week," said Coetzee.

American Kurt Kitayama was joined in third place on nine-under by Wales' Jamie Donaldson, also a former Ryder Cup winner, who fired a third-round 66.

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