Former Oklahoma State player Peter Uihlein is projected to move into the top 70 of the Official World Golf Ranking if he can hang on to win the $7 million HNA French Open at Le Golf National in the French capital.
Uihlein has a strong posse of contenders trying to hunt him down.
The 2010 U.S. Amateur champion shares the lead at 8 under along with Sweden’s Alexander Bjork. Proven winners Thomas Pieters, Tommy Fleetwood and Andy Sullivan lurk one shot back in a tie for third place.
Uihlein returned an even-par 71, cancelling out a bogey at the par-4 first hole with a birdie at the par-5 14th. He made pars on the other 16 holes to stay on the same under par total he began with.
“It was hard, it was a tough day, it was challenging for sure,” Uihlein said. “I didn’t really feel disheartened making pars.
“It’s what you practice for and it’s what you play for is to get in contention on Sunday in the final group and see how it goes. I was proud of the way I handled myself on the back nine. I felt like I hit it a lot better after a shaky start. I’m excited for tomorrow.”
Uihlein, currently ranked World No. 162, is looking for his first European Tour win since the 2013 Madeira Islands Open.
Bjork returned a 1-under 70 to join Uihlein. The 27-year-old is playing his first full European Tour season after finishing seventh on last year’s Challenge Tour money list.
“I’m happy, happy with the way I played and the way I fought with the start and I came back in the end,” Bjork said. “It should be a lot of fun. Really looking forward to tomorrow.”
Pieters struggled with his driver all day. Things got so bad he broke the shaft of his driver after finding water off the ninth tee. The Belgian tried to force the club back into the bag in frustration and the shaft snapped. He still managed to return an even-par 71
Fleetwood is in the best form of his life. He’s currently second on the European Tour money list thanks to winning the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship along with runner-up finishes in the WGC–Mexico Championship and Shenzhen International before fourth place in the U.S. Open.
Sullivan moved up the leaderboard with a three-under 68. He’s looking for his first victory since 2015, when he won three times.