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Sjöholm hits the front in Provence 

Sjöholm hits the front in Provence 

Joel Sjöholm will take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Hopps Open de Provence as he goes in search of his second European Challenge Tour title.

Joel Sjoholm

The Swede won the 2017 Italian Challenge Open by Lyoness and will look to claim his second victory on the circuit in only his sixth Challenge Tour start of 2022, where he leads by two from Kiwi Daniel Hillier and South African duo Deon Germishuys and Bryce Easton.

With the chance to claim his first victory in five years, Sjöholm feels Golf International de Pont Royal owes him one following a tied second finish at the venue in 2018.

“Last time I played well here I lost to Romain Langasque so I’m going to go out tomorrow and try to get that one back because it felt like I had a chance of winning that time,” he said. “It’s going to be really cool to go out tomorrow and have a chance again.

“It was quite a solid round today. A lot of good putts and a lot of good shots, but also a lot of bad shots and a lot of bad chips, and then it all equals up to seven under which was pretty cool.

“My putting was very good today. Every time I was in the range of where you think it should go in and you want it to go in, they did go in.”

He began the third round three shots behind overnight leaders Hillier and Bailey Gill, but quickly closed the gap with back-to-back birdies to start before making the turn in 31. He navigated the back nine in two under par to sign for a round that he saw in the offing before play started.

“It’s going to sound like I’m having a laugh, but when I woke up this morning, I actually said that seven under is out there today,” he said. “I hit it into the trees on 18 but I told myself that I have to make a really good birdie to get to seven under.

“When I was warming up, I felt that wind pick up a bit so there was a little bit more wind than I expected because this morning seemed quite calm. I was maybe overstepping it with the thought of seven under but that was the goal I had for today and it came through.”

Hillier recorded a round of 70 to lie two shots behind Sjöholm alongside South African duo Germishuys and Easton, who signed for rounds of 67 and 68, respectively. Fellow second round co-leader Gill is a further stroke behind at nine under par with compatriots Nathan Kimsey and Daniel Brown.

The final round of the Hopps Open de Provence will begin at 08:40 local time, with Sjöholm playing alongside Easton and Germishuys at 10:52am.

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