Hernandez pulls away in France

Maria Hernandez shot a four-under-par 66 on Saturday and extended her lead to four strokes after the third round of the Lacoste Ladies Open de France.

At 12-under-par, the 28-year-old from Pamplona will go head to head against two other Spanish players in the last group on Sunday.

The defending champion Azahara Munoz, who had a three-under-par 67, lies in second place, with former Ladies European Tour No.1 Carlota Ciganda also part of the all-Spanish three ball set to head out at 12:14 local time.

At seven-under-par, Ciganda sits alongside England’s Florentyna Parker and Swiss amateur Albane Valenzuela. All three players carded level par rounds of 70 on a warm but overcast day at Golf de Chantaco in St Jean de Luz, Aquitaine.

Rookies Amy Boulden from Wales and Isabelle Boineau from France are one stroke back at six-under-par.

Hernandez lost her overnight lead after stumbling to bogeys on her first and second holes, but bounced back with birdies on four, six and seven.

Three straight birdies from the 13th pushed Hernandez five strokes clear of the field, before Munoz closed the gap with a birdie on 17.

The world number 415 ranked player tapped in for birdie on 13 and 14 before hitting the green in two shots and making two putts to pick up another shot on the par-5 15th.

“It was great. I hit them really close,” said Hernandez, who won her sole Ladies European Tour title at the 2010 Slovak Open.

“The start was a little bit rough and I don’t really know what happened. I hit one bad shot really on number two and number one. I hit it a little left and the ball did something wrong from the putter, I don’t know what happened.

“From there, I was playing good. I tried to go back to my game and be patient. I knew birdies were going to come because on this golf course normally you can make a ton of birdies. So I knew they were coming and just needed to be patient and play my own game.”

Munoz came from a stroke behind to win by one last year and the world number 15 from Malaga feels that she can overcome a four stroke deficit.

“Four shots is nothing over 18 holes and so many things can happen on this golf course. You can go really low or you can get yourself in a lot of trouble. Tomorrow I’m just going to try to go for it and hopefully it happens,” she said.