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Wednesday, 12 December, 2018

Powerful Pieters likely to launch a strong challenge in Paris

Fleetwood should put pressure on

Thomas Pieters could charge at Le Golf National
1 of 1

Final round
Sky Sports 4, 12.30pm

Story so far

Tricky conditions in Paris have meant there is a tightly bunched pack at the top of the leaderboard at the French Open as Le Golf National started to show its teeth on Saturday afternoon.

Two men - Peter Uihlein and Alex Bjork - are tied at the top at eight under par but they are being chased by several big names on the European Tour as they bid for the biggest win of their careers.

Red-hot Englishman Tommy Fleetwood and Ryder Cup stars Thomas Pieters and Andy Sullivan are all within a shot of the lead while Bradley Dredge, Lee Westwood, Alex Noren and Andrew Johnston are also in mix going into the final day.

Racing Post Sport's 33-1 ante-post selection Ross Fisher is only three shots back but will have to go low to threaten the leaders.

Leaderboard

-8 Alex Bjork, Peter Uihlein
-7 Tommy Fleetwood, Thomas Pieters, Andy Sullivan
-6 Bradley Dredge
-5 Adrian Otaegui, Ross Fisher, Paul Waring
-4 Lee Westwood, David Drysdale, Kristoffer Broberg, Alex Noren, Andrew Johnston, Adrien Saddier
-3 Gregory Havret, Jon Rahm, Joost Luiten, Ryan Fox, Mike Lorenzo-Vera

Best prices

4 T Fleetwood, T Pieters, 6 P Uihlein, A Sullivan, 7 A Bjork, 18 B Dredge, 20 R Risher, 22 A Noren, 40 J Rahm, L Westwood, 50 A Johnston, 55 bar.

Final-round advice

Bookmakers believe that Bjork and Uihlein are likely to give way and expect in-form Fleetwood and Pieters to apply the pressure in Paris.

Le Golf National, the venue for the next Ryder Cup, has proved typically tough again this week and a solid, rather than a spectacular round, is likely to see one of the top five walk away with the trophy as challengers struggle to come from off the pace.

The top two have a one-shot lead but Bjork spurned a winning opportunity at the Tshwane Open in March and he must prove he can handle the pressure in his bid to seal a first European Tour title.

Uihlein has a 2013 Madeira victory to his name and, while the American probably rates as the better option of the two, he did not have to fend off the same level of opposition when he broke his maiden.

Sullivan is only 61st in the Race to Dubai rankings and the cheerful Nuneaton man will need to prove that he's rediscovered top form if he's to keep up with Fleetwood and Pieters.

There looks to be little between the joint-favourites but narrow preference is for the brilliant Belgian.

Pieters snapped his driver in frustration halfway through the third round when he found the water at the ninth but the 25-year-old responded brilliantly to produce three back-nine birdies which propelled him into contention.

He has played the back nine in eight under par this week so, if he can safely negotiate the earlier part of his final round, he will be brimming with confidence at the turn.

Fleetwood is likely to launch a strong challenge as well. He has a phenomenal Sunday record - eight of his last ten final-round scores have been in the 60's - and he should at least see off Bradley Dredge in the 12.50pm twoball.

Recommendations
T Pieters to win French Open
1pt 4-1 general
T Fleetwood to win twoball
3pts 8-11 Betfair, Power

There looks to be little between the joint-favourites but narrow preference is for the brilliant Belgian
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