PARIS // Rafa Echenique lost his magic but kept his lead in the French Open Alstom at Le Golf National near Paris yesterday. By adding "only" a 70 to his opening rounds of 65 and 67, however, the 28-year-old from Argentina still has a lot of work to do to claim his first European Tour title - one worth a massive £565,025 (Dh3.38 million).
Echenique, second in Munich last week after an albatross two on the final hole, is 11 under par after three rounds on the Albatross course. He needed a closing birdie this time to edge back ahead of Martin Kaymer, the German whose opening, course record-equalling 62 on Thursday had given him a three-stroke advantage. England's Paul Waring, another seeking his maiden win on the circuit, is in third place only two back following a 68 - and, thanks to four birdies in the last five holes, former amateur teammate Seve Benson, named after the Spanish great, matched that score to be alongside the Australian left-hander Richard Green and Swede Peter Hanson in fourth.
Lee Westwood remains four behind after a 70 that sent him straight to the practice putting green, but much happier with their games were Ian Poulter and Colin Montgomerie. Poulter, who at the British Open the week after next will be trying to go one better than he did last year,when he was runner up, fired a 66 to improve from 31st to 10th. Montgomerie charged from joint 62nd to 11th with a day's best 65.
* PA Sport