Howell, Hansen in front in Paris

European Tour

David Howell and Anders Hansen share a one-shot lead heading into the final round of the Alstom Open de France.

David Howell and Anders Hansen share a one-shot lead heading into the final round of the Alstom Open de France.

With overnight leader Marcel Siem slipping down the leaderboard after shooting a 73, Howell and Hansen emerged as the men to catch on Sunday.

However, Hansen will feel that he should hold sole ownership of the lead after slipping up late in the day.

The Dane conceded bogeys on the 16th and 17th to end the day on six-under-par.

Hansen had been matched by George Coetzee for much of the round, but like Hansen, the South African stuttered on the back nine, bogeying three of the last six holes to leave him one adrift of the leaders.

While others faltered, Howell stuck to his guns, with a solid 67 enough to give him a share of the lead.

“It was a great round,” said the Englishman.

“Setting off in the top 10 you don’t want to go backward. You want to move yourself into contention and that’s the perfect Saturday.

“I had a nice bit of luck at the last. The seven-iron was my one really poor shot, but it went my way today and it scrambled over the water.

“I’m a long way from where I once was, but I’ve made six cuts in a row and it’s been a long time since I’ve been able to say that.

“Obviously I don’t measure success on cuts made, but it’s good for the confidence.”

Howell’s compatriot, Lee Westwood, was not so lucky, with the world number three shooting a 76 after injuring his groin after slipping on his way to the first tee.

“I was talking to Richard Sterne’s caddie and not looking where I was going,” Westwood told Sky Sports of the incident.

“I slipped on wooden sleepers down the side of the cart path. My left foot went forward about two feet and my right foot stayed where it was.

“It felt like I strained something at the top of my right leg and tweaked my right knee as well.

“It seems to have eased off, but I am still a little bit wary of it.”

Home favourite Raphael Jacquelin is two shots back after shooting a 70 while Henrik Stenson and Ian Poulter are a further shot adrift.

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