English duo lead in Paris

James Morrison was joined by fellow Englishman Mark Foster at the top of the Open de France leaderboard on Saturday.

James Morrison was joined by fellow Englishman Mark Foster at the top of the Alstom Open de France leaderboard on Saturday.

It was an eventful day at Le Golf National, as the lead changed hands on numerous occasions, and new names came to the fore.

Morrison, who led overnight, surrendered his advantage early in the round after finding water on the fifth.

He made a double-bogey five, but came back strongly on the back nine to card four birdies and pull clear of the rest of the field.

Unfortunately for Morrison, a double-bogey, bogey finish awaited him on 17 and 18, and he eventually signed for a one-over-par 72 to fall back into a tie with Foster for first on nine under.

Morrison was surprised his round had been so uneven.

“It was not as up and down as it looked really. I played pretty well all day,” he told europeantour.com.

“The double on the second I thought was a pretty good shot and I was very surprised to see it finish in the water. It’s pretty hard to start that way, especially final group.

“I battled back to get it back and then (it was a) poor finish really, a couple of wrong choices. I could easily have finished par, par and have a three shot lead. That’s the way it goes.

“But I’m happy. I’m playing well, I’m putting well and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.

Foster, who also led after three rounds at last week’s BMW International Open, made his third 68 in a row.

“(That was) probably the best one of the three. A great round,” he said.

“It was really blowing out there, a lot of crosswinds which seemed to be either into or down, and the course has firmed out a lot so it’s tough to get the ball close.”

“I look forward to it,” Foster said of Sunday’s final round, “and to be honest, I’ll be happy if the conditions are similar to today, but, however it is, I’ll just prepare and try and stick to my game plan.

“Two weeks in a row the last group, that’s where you want to be.”

Scotland’s Richie Ramsay is alone in third, one shot behind the leaders, while Frenchman Thomas Levet and Germany’s Martin Kaymer both shot 67s to finish in a tie for fourth on six under, three off the lead.

Ramsay’s round of 68 looked to be an even better one at one stage, before two late bogeys halted his charge.

“I was a little disappointed with the last couple of holes but to shoot three under par out there on probably the harder part of the day when the greens were firmer, and the wind was a little bit stronger than it has been, it was really pleasing,” he said.

Kaymer advanced from eight shots back to only three on Saturday, thanks in no small part to a superb eagle on the 14th.

He’ll be hoping to go low on Sunday, and move into the world number three spot with a victory.

“I could even have made another birdie on 18,” said Kaymer, “but I’m very happy with four under par. I think it puts me in a good position for tomorrow.

“If I keep playing the way I did today and I put some pressure on the guys early in my round, anything can happen, but I think it will definitely be a very exciting afternoon.

“It all comes down to the last four holes here and I’ve won in the past here.”

Richard Green, joint leader after two rounds, endured a nightmare 76, including an eight on the par four seventh, and finds himself five shots back.