Rasmus HoJgaard redefined golf’s traditional moving day at the Cazoo French Open at the Le National club on the outskirts of Versailles.
Hojgaard was six shots in front heading into day three but after just three holes the Dane found himself one behind as he took an ‘8’ at the par-3 third hole and doubled the par-4 fourth, and then mixed five birdies with two bogeys leaving him with a slender lead entering tomorrows final round.
The 21-year-old, who produced an equal course record 62 on day one, is now set to produce a Houdini act, the like that has not been seen on the DP Tour World for many a year.
Hojgaard said: “It was a tough start but I had to keep telling myself I was playing well the first two rounds and I shouldn’t let what happened early in my round today bother me too much.
“So, I just tried my best and stayed positive. It would have been good not to bogey the last but it was a trough grind (smiling) and I’m proud I hung in there and made a few birdies along the way.”
To his enormous credit, Hojgaard was not about to give-up and with an incident with his English-born caddy Tom Ayling digging his heels in, and finally winning Hojgaard shot selection down the right side of the final hole. Ayling managed to talk the young Dane out of going for the green in ‘2’ and instead safely laying-up even though it meant taking bogey at the last.
Hojgaard is three-time DP World Tour winner and a fourth victory would mean winning four events in four different years, starting from a maiden success in 2019.
And when asked what was more pleasing either the 62 on day one or his fight to get back into the day after what unfolded over his second and third holes the Dane was quick to respond.
“Definitely my comeback from the start I had today”, he said.
“I was very proud of myself for the first two rounds and while it was an annoying finish to bogey the last, it was tough grind and I am proud I stayed in there, hitting a few birdies along the way.
“The way I had to fight so hard to regain the lead is a confidence-booster for me heading into tomorrow.
“It’s not the Saturday I wanted but at the same time, I am happy I stayed in there and managed to make some birdies so that I still have the lead. So, I am looking forward to tomorrow.”
South African George Coetzee (68) lies second at 11-under while Belgium’s Thomas Pieters, who was at the centre of a bizarre rules incident on Friday, shares third on 11-under.
In contrast to Hojgaard, Clandeboye’s Jonathan Caldwell birdied both the second and third holes but it was the last hole that for a second day jumped up to bite him, taking a bogey in a score of a three-under 68 to be sharing 16th spot at five-under.
Royal Dublin’s Niall Kearney could share Hojgaard’s pain managing just two birdies but also four bogeys and a seventh hole double.