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Rookie Marcus Kinhult leads Open de France

Kinhult is impressing in rookie season. (Photo: Getty Images / European Tour )
21 year old European Tour rookie Marcus Kinhult continues to lead the HNA Open de France adding a third round of 67 to maintain his two shot margin over Chris Wood although Spain’s Sergio Garcia surged into contention with a round of 64 to be just three from the lead.

Kinhult, who finished 4th on the Challenge Tour money list in 2017 to earn his European Tour card, recovered from an early double bogey with five consecutive birdies late in his opening nine.

Kinhult has a best finish of 3rd in his rookie season, that coming at the Qatar Masters where he finished two shots behind Eddie Pepperell so the opportunity for his first victory on either the European or Challenge Tour looms large.

“I just felt good,” said Kinhult of his day. “I hit some really good iron shots. As you said, it was a bit of a shaky start, but then I just hit some good shots and felt better and better throughout the round. The momentum kind of kept me going in there.

“It's going to be nerve-wracking, the first few holes, at least (tomorrow). I felt the nerves today for sure and tomorrow is going to be the same I guess. So just trying to handle that and handle myself as well as I can, and obviously it's a lot of fun.”

Garcia displayed some of his best form in recent weeks with his round of the day 64 and talked after the round of the growing confidence in his game

“We'll see what kind of day we have,” said the Spaniard. “Obviously, the goal is to play as well as I did today. I believe in what I'm doing, and you know, just have as much confidence as possible, like I was doing today. If I'm able to do that, I should have a good round and it's the kind of golf course that it's testing you every single hole and you've got to stay very patient and very down-to-earth.”

Jon Rahm holed a lengthy birdie putt at the last to be at 7 under and 4 behind Kinhult but clearly a significant danger to those ahead.

“I've played really good golf to be honest, and I know I'm not the only one saying that, said Rahm. I've made one really bad swing per round, which is really rare in the sport of golf, and every single time it's cost me a double-bogey. That's what kind of golf course it is, which is even more impressive to see what Julian Suri did today to shoot two under with no dropped shots, that's unbelievable.

“It's a tough golf course, really difficult, even for somebody like me who is usually known to be a ball-striker. It's hard for me to keep it away from bogeys and hazards. It's a challenge and I'm going to need a really good day tomorrow to hopefully get it done.”

Wade Ormsby improved with a third round of 69 to be in a share of 18th place and the leading Australian. A strong finish by the South Australian tomorrow could earn a start at the Open Championship as the leading three players finishing inside the top 10 tomorrow and not yet exempt for the Open will be headed for Carnoustie.

Ryan Fox and Scott Hend are the next best of the Australasians, the pair tied for 38th.

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