Marcel Siem shoots a 69 to stretch Morocco lead

Marcel Siem of Germany. Picture: Getty
Marcel Siem of Germany. Picture: Getty
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Marcel Siem remains on course to lift the Hassan II Trophy after increasing his lead to four shots at the end of the third round in Agadir yesterday.

Siem needs victory at the Golf du Palais Royal to have any chance of breaking into the world’s top 50 ahead of the qualification cut-off for The Masters and he will take a formidable advantage into the final day.

The German, who was three clear overnight, overcame a nervy start to card a three-under-par 69 to move to 15 under overall and leave closest challengers David Horsey, Mikko Ilonen and Pablo Larrazabal trailing in his wake. Siem, pictured below, bogeyed the first before steadying with five straight pars before the first birdie of his round at the seventh kept his lead intact.

His lead had been cut to a single stroke by this point but back-to-back birdies at the ninth and tenth released some pressure and while he picked up another shot at the 16th, he gave it straight back with a bogey at the par-five 511-yard 17th. “Until the 15th I was really happy with the round,” said Siem. “I got over a tough start with tough conditions and all the guys just behind me seemed to start really well and almost caught me up.

“I had to hole a few big putts just to stay ahead and then I managed to pull away a little bit. But then 15 and 17 were disappointing because you are really looking to pick up a couple of shots there but I managed to give one away. There was pressure there so it was great to make a few putts and pick up four in six holes. It is very nice to have the gap back for the start of the final round tomorrow. I am pretty confident at the moment so I know the swing is there when I trust it and just let it go. That will be very important tomorrow.”

Siem’s nearest challengers overnight, Horsey and Ilonen, both carded two-under-par rounds of 70 despite threatening to cut the lead. Englishman Horsey approached the turn in 33 but a disappointing back nine undermined his challenge. Ilonen, meanwhile, fired a 40-foot birdie at the third and followed it up by picking up another shot at the seventh. The Finn then made an eagle at the par-five tenth, but three bogeys in his final six holes saw him settle on 11 under par overall, alongside Horsey and Larrazabal, who went round in three-under-par.

Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger is in fifth on nine under par overall, while Scot Craig Lee, from Stirling, is a stroke further back in sixth place.

• English teenager Charley Hull leads the way with a round to go at the Lalla Meryem Cup in Morocco, her first European Tour event as a professional. The 17-year-old from Kettering shot a sparkling 64 in yesterday’s third round, with four birdies on the front nine and four more after the turn in a round marred only by a bogey at the ninth. Her closing birdie left her one shot ahead of Thailand’s Ariya Jutanugarn, just four months her senior, who birdied the last two holes. Jutanugarn’s round also featured three birdies and a bogey.

South Africa’s Lee-Anne Pace shares third place with Americans Katie Burnett and Beth Allen on eight under. Burnett’s bogey-free 65 was the best round of the day among the trio. England’s Laura Davies and Swede Mikaela Parmlid finished the day level on five under, with Australian Sarah Kemp a further shot back.