|James Morrison of England hits a ball out off the bunker from the third hole during the French Open golf tournament at the Golf National course in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, near Paris July 2, 2011. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau
James Morrison lost three strokes over the final two holes Saturday to fall into a share of the third-round lead with Mark Foster at the Open de France.
Morrison, the second-round leader, struggled to a one-over 72, while Foster, who was in first after three rounds last week, carded his third straight three-under 68. The pair finished at nine-under 204 and is one shot clear at Le Golf National.
Richie Ramsay bogeyed the last two holes for a three-under 68. The Scotsman is alone in third place at minus-eight.
World No. 4 Martin Kaymer shot an impressive four-under 67 on Saturday and inched up into a tie for fourth with top Frenchman Thomas Levet, who, despite a double-bogey at the last, also had a 67. The two got in at six-under 207.
If Kaymer can finish in the top eight, he will reclaim his No. 3 world ranking that he lost to U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy last week.
"I could even have made another birdie on 18, but I'm very happy with four- under par. I think it puts me in a good position for tomorrow," said Kaymer, who won this title in 2009. "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."
Kaymer will have to chase down the duo in front.
Morrison was the overnight leader, but he found water at the second hole en route to a double-bogey. He played the rest of his opening nine in even-par, but almost immediately after he made the turn, Morrison got it going.
He birdied the 11th and 12th holes to take a two-shot advantage. Ramsay became his closest pursuer and when Morrison two-putted for birdie at the par-five 14th, his lead was still only two.
Ramsay kept pace with Morrison, but Foster just played steady golf. He made the turn in three-under par, but a bogey at the 12th knocked him off the pace being set by Morrison.
Foster got within two thanks to a birdie at the 16th, but Morrison also birdied the hole to move three clear at 12-under par. Ramsay was in the mix, but when his approach at 17 came up short, that led to a bogey. Ramsay three- putted the last from almost 60 feet to get in at eight-under.
Foster got up and down from a bunker at the last to post nine-under par. This will be his second week in a row with the 54-hole lead on the European Tour although he missed out on the playoff last week at the BMW International Open.
"It's tough out there," said Foster. "I saw the conditions were tough when I arrived here today. I just wanted to keep doing the same thing and I managed to do that."
With Foster in the clubhouse, Morrison was struggling in the final group.
At the 17th, Morrison also came up short with his second and he pitched his third 20 feet beyond the flag. He hit a terrible par putt that left him four feet for bogey, but he pushed that putt and walked off 17 with a double-bogey -- still with the lead, though, at 10-under par.
Morrison found the fairway off the 18th tee, but found the same bunker Foster did in the group before him. Foster played a much better sand shot than Morrison. Foster holed an eight-footer for his par, but Morrison missed from close to double that length to fall into a tie for first.
"Coming in, it was just poor swings and poor putts," Morrison said of his finish on Saturday. "It had nothing to do with the brain."
Thorbjorn Olesen shot an even-par 71 and is alone in sixth at minus-five.
Richard Green was in the lead on Saturday, but imploded with a quadruple-bogey eight at the seventh, a hole he double-bogeyed in Friday's second round. The Australian shot a five-over 76 and fell into a share of seventh with Bradley Dredge, who had a 69 in round three, at four-under 209.
NOTES: Both Morrison and Foster each have one win on the European Tour although Morrison's came last year and Foster's was in 2003.