George Coetzee surrendered his top position at the Open de France after a double-bogey at 13 grabbed the lead for Nicolas Colsearts heading into the final round at Le Golf National.
Starting in a share of top spot, Coetzee dropped a shot on the second to leave Colsaerts, who is struggling to save his card, in the solo lead but the 36-year-old soon had company again as Kitayama made a two-putt birdie on the par five third.
Colsaerts holed from 12 feet at the fifth to edge himself in front but American Kurt Kitayama followed him in from around a third of that distance to also get into double figures.
Coetzee made a smart par save on the fifth and then holed from 12 feet on the sixth to get back level for the day.
That hole was proving gettable and Colsaerts made a birdie of his own from five feet to once again get his nose in front.
Coetzee birdied the tenth and holed a long putt at the 11th to share the lead but Colsaerts followed him in from 13 feet. A monster putt from Coetzee made it a hat-trick of birdies and again he was in a share but again it was not for long, as Colsaerts put his approach to tap-in range.
While the leading pair were blazing a trail, the field were sliding back and Colsaerts found himself four shots clear of Jamie Donaldson in third. The Welshman – celebrating his 44th birthday – birdied the second and third, put an approach to close range on the sixth and rolled a left-to-righter up the hill on the next to turn in 32.
A stunning approach to the tenth then left him a very short putt for birdie, but he three-putted the 13th before getting up and down from the sand for a gain at the par five next. He soon found himself just one shot behind Coetzee as the four-time European Tour winner went left off the tee at the 13th before going right with his second and hitting a tree with his third en route to a double-bogey.
Colsaerts’ advantage was cut to two after he found a nasty lie off the tee on the 17th but a 15-footer on the last had him back at 13 under.
Kitayama also birdied the 18th thanks to a stunning second to close range after dropping shots on the 11th and 12th.
JB Hansen went in the water twice on the 13th but responded with four birdies in a row to sit alongside Gavin Moynihan who carded a 68 and Richie Ramsay who signed for a 70.
Home favourite Benjamin Hebert, 2009 champion Martin Kaymer and South African Brandon Stone were six shots off the lead.
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