Nicolas Colsaerts’ third-round 67 saw him open up a three-shot lead heading into the final round of the Amundi Open de France as fellow Ryder Cup hero Jamie Donaldson roared into contention in Paris.
Scotland’s Richie Ramsay lies joint fifth, five shots back, after a 70.
Belgian Colsaerts was a member of the European team that came back from 10-4 down to complete the Miracle at Medinah in 2012, while two years later Welshman Donaldson hit a towering iron into the 15th at Gleneagles to secure the point that ensured the trophy stayed on this side of the Atlantic.
Neither player has claimed a win since then and both now need strong finishes to the Race to Dubai season to keep their playing privileges for 2020. Colsaerts’ 67 at Le Golf National moved him to 13 under and put him in pole position for a first win in seven years, with South African George Coetzee his closest competition after a 70.
Donaldson – celebrating his 44th birthday – was then at nine under alongside American Kurt Kitayama.
Colsaerts, pictured, carded five birdies and a bogey as he turned a share of the overnight into a three-shot advantage, and he is keeping his focus purely on his game.
“It would be amazing to win but if I stay away from thinking that I think my chances will a lot higher,” he told europeantour.com.
A string of injury troubles – including an accident with a chainsaw in 2016 – have hampered Donaldson in the last five years but he is confident he still has the mentality that has brought him three European Tour victories.
“You don’t really try to remember your birthday when you get to 40-plus but a memorable day on my birthday,” he said after carding a 66 containing six birdies and a single dropped shot.
“I’ll just keep playing the way I’ve been playing the last three days, which is being aggressive.
“I’ve got a game plan but I need to be pushing on to try to win the tournament.”