Hend, right, cruised three shots clear of the pack with five birdies in the first ten holes, but saw his lead cut when playing partner Noren holed from 50ft for a birdie on the 17th. Noren, the 2009 champion, enjoyed two huge slices of luck on the last when his wayward drive hit a spectator and stayed out of the trees, then his mishit approach bounced over the water short of the green and on to the putting surface.
In contrast, Hend’s drive finished on a cart path to the right of the fairway and the 43-year-old went on to make his only bogey of the day to card a 65 and finish 13 under par.
“I can’t complain,” Hend said. “I left a few shots out there but made up for that by making some great par saves. I thought it was a bit unfortunate (on the 18th) to bounce down the cart path between the bunkers. If I was in the bunker I could have just dumped it in the middle of the green and made par.
“I was a bit worried about hitting the tree in front of me and then hitting it in the water so thought ‘You know what, if you make a five so be it, just don’t really mess it up and put a big number on the card’.” Noren, who won the Scottish Open in July, carded a total of five birdies and one bogey in his 66.
England’s Richard Bland is three shots off the pace after carding a 69.
France’s Romain Langasque, England’s Andrew Johnston, Spain’s Alejandro Canizares and Finland’s Mikko Ilonen share fourth place on nine under, with Scotland’s David Drysdale a shot further back after a best-of-the-day 64.