Thongchai leads as Rory stages incredible recovery in France

 
Round three report

Thongchai Jaidee will take a two-shot lead into the final round of the 100th Open de France after a dramatic third day at Le Golf National as Rory McIlroy looked to have blown his chances of victory with a front nine of 40 before producing a sensational back nine of 30 to lie just two off the lead.

Jaidee carded the only bogey-free round of the day with a 68 that moved him to eight under and two clear of McIlroy and Korea’s Jeunghun Wang.

All three men came into the day with a share of the lead at five under but Wang had opened up a four-shot cushion after seven holes while McIlroy looked lost for nine holes as he turned in four over  to lie eight behind him.

The Northern Irishman, who is making significant swing changes, then flicked the switch and produced the kind of scintillating form which makes him irresistible to watch as roared home in five under to sign for a 70, while Wang made three bogeys on his way home.

Jaidee, by contrast, made birdies on the sixth, seventh and 11th with the minimum of fuss as he searches for an eighth European Tour title.

Defending champion Bernd Wiesberger was at five under, two shots clear of Martin Kaymer, Joost Luiten, Alex Noren, Brandon Stone and Andy Sullivan who produced a magnificent moment on the 18th as he holed his six-iron approach to the packed 18th green to send the huge crowds wild.

Player quotes

Thongchai Jaidee: “I had a very good game plan today. My caddie and were talking all the way round, concentrating on every shot. I hit a lot of fairways today and made a couple of great long outs which helped the score a lot. I was very positive today and I need to do the same tomorrow because the course can be so tough, especially if the conditions stay the same because we are playing in a really tough wind and the course is set up really tough.”

Rory McIlroy: “It was a great finish. Any time you can shoot five under on the back nine here at Le Golf National, it’s a really good score. It was a shame I had to do that to get myself back into the tournament, but I guess it just shows you the toughness of this golf course at times, and especially combine that with just missing a few fairways and not really getting any momentum; to come back the way I did on the back nine, I think it was just more resilience than anything else.

“I knew over the last couple of days, I’ve hit enough good shots to know that I can give myself chances for birdies and I can make some birdies, so I knew it was possible. I just needed to find a spark or get something going, and I think the birdie on 11 was big. I missed one on 10, so birdie on 11 and I felt like I played some really good golf after that.

“You saw two ends of the spectrum there. There was the front nine where there was nothing fluid at all about what I was doing, and then the back nine when I started to get some confidence is when the opposite way it went; it went the best way it could. I guess it just shows a little bit of the fragile state of my game at the minute. The good’s really good and the bad’s — you know, it’s pretty bad. If I can just concentrate on the good stuff tonight and try and replicate that back nine through the whole 18 tomorrow, I should be okay.”

Andy Sullivan: “We had 186 and my caddie gave me a seven iron to start with. I thought it was a little down, and said no, it’s off left, and hit a high soft six. It landed perfectly and then the noise was incredible around 18. It’s a nice way to finish after a few errant holes a couple holes before.

“I thought if I hung in there today, maybe shot one or two under, I was always going to have a chance. I feel like the way I’m playing, the last few weeks have not been brilliant results but I’ve been playing good. This week the putter’s warmed up a little bit and still feel like I’m playing quite well. I know what I’m capable of and I know I can go out there and shoot a number tomorrow and get myself up the leaderboard.”

Round three scores:

205 T Jaidee (Tha) 67 70 68,

207 R McIlroy  (Nir) 71 66 70, J Wang (Kor) 71 66 70,

208 B Wiesberger  (Aut) 67 71 70,

210 M Kaymer (Ger) 74 68 68, A Sullivan (Eng) 69 70 71, J Luiten (Ned) 69 70 71, A Noren  (Swe) 72 68 70, B Stone (RSA) 69 68 73,

211 F Molinari (Ita) 68 71 72, L Westwood (Eng) 74 70 67, N Colsaerts  (Bel) 70 68 73,

212 M Ilonen  (Fin) 69 68 75, A Hansen (Den) 70 68 74, M Southgate  (Eng) 70 70 72, R Cabrera Bello (Esp) 73 69 70,

213 R Dinwiddie  (Eng) 71 71 71, T Pieters  (Bel) 67 72 74, J Carlsson (Swe) 71 70 72, M Decottignies-Lafon (Fra) 68 73 72, L Jensen (Den) 69 71 73,

214 C Shinkwin (Eng) 71 72 71, J Campillo (Esp) 73 71 70, R Wattel  (Fra) 69 76 69, T Merritt (USA) 70 75 69, J Quesne  (Fra) 70 73 71, E De La Riva  (Esp) 70 72 72, R Sterne  (RSA) 76 68 70,

215 G Havret  (Fra) 72 70 73, A Levy (Fra) 72 69 74, T Fisher Jnr (RSA) 71 71 73, G Boyd  (Eng) 71 73 71, A Otaegui  (Esp) 67 76 72, C Wood  (Eng) 70 73 72, T Detry  (Bel) 72 69 74, R Gouveia (Por) 73 71 71,

216 S Khan (Eng) 73 68 75, D Im (USA) 72 71 73, C Sordet  (Fra) 73 71 72, E Molinari  (Ita) 68 73 75, T Hatton (Eng) 73 71 72, C Paisley  (Eng) 72 71 73, L Bjerregaard  (Den) 66 74 76,

217 A Saddier (Fra) 70 70 77, R Langasque  (Fra) 72 71 74, R Fisher (Eng) 73 72 72, F Zanotti (Par) 72 72 73, L Donald  (Eng) 73 71 73,

218 M Siem  (Ger) 71 70 77, G Bourdy (Fra) 69 75 74, M Carlsson  (Swe) 70 75 73,

219 E Pepperell (Eng) 71 74 74, J Parry (Eng) 72 72 75,

220 P Harrington (Irl) 73 70 77, J Walters (RSA) 71 72 77, C Hanson (Eng) 68 75 77,

221 R Karlsson (Swe) 72 73 76, J Van Zyl (RSA) 71 71 79, S Hend (Aus) 73 69 79, A Wall (Eng) 74 70 77,

222 T Bjørn (Den) 74 70 78, R McEvoy  (Eng) 75 70 77, C Farrelly (Eng) 75 70 77,

223 O Wilson (Eng) 72 72 79, M Warren (Sco) 74 70 79,

227 V Dubuisson  (Fra) 71 73 82,

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