sport

Stadler four clear in Paris

American Kevin Stadler will take a four-shot lead into the final day of the French Open after a round of one over 72 at Le Golf National in difficult windy conditions on Saturday.

The 34-year-old from Reno, Nevada is on nine under par, four shots clear of Thailand's Thongchai Jaidee and Frenchman Victor Riu.Riu briefly pulled level with his playing partner Stadler with three birdies on the front nine but the 29-year-old local favourite had six bogeys coming home.

Jaidee's 69 would have been even better if not for a bogey on the 18th, while US Open champion Martin Kaymer is six off the lead after a 70.

"I think since the first day he's running away a little bit, so I guess he likes the golf course as much as I do," Kaymer said of Stadler, who won his first PGA Tour title in Phoenix in February. "So I think it will be difficult to catch him.

"If the weather stays like this, I just need to shoot a very, very low score tomorrow. If you get within two or three shots of him, he might get some nerves the last three or four holes because it's a tough finish.

"But the way he plays golf and the way I know him, he's a very laid-back guy so it will be difficult to catch him. I can only try to shoot as low as I can to be happy with myself."

Stadler carded one bogey and eight pars on the front nine and that allowed Riu to claim a share of the lead when he recorded his second birdie of the day on the ninth.

At that point the 29-year-old from Paris was the only player in the field not to have dropped a shot, but a bogey promptly arrived on the 10th after he drove into the water and Stadler holed from 10 feet for birdie for a two-shot swing.

Riu bounced straight back with a birdie on the 11th but then carded five bogeys and a birdie in the next six holes, managing his only par of the back nine on the 18th.

Stadler was far more consistent with seven pars and a bogey on the 17th, despite struggling with a back injury which flared up during the round.

"It's a little tight," the 34-year-old said. "It's been a little out of whack all week. Luckily didn't give me a whole lot of trouble the first couple of days, but it today it turned up a bit. I'm still able to swing so should be fine.

"I got about what I deserved out of my game today. I didn't play that great, made a whole lot of pars and did not have nearly as many looks (for birdie) as I had the last couple days, but you can't expect to play that well for four days in a row.

"I knew I really didn't have to do anything crazy today. A couple less would have been nice, but overall I'm happy the way it went."