PARIS - With low scores at a premium on Saturday, Kevin Stadler fired a third-round, 1-over 72 and he extended his lead to four shots heading into the final day at the Alstom Open de France.
Stadler, who sits atop the leaderboard at 9-under-par 204, entered the day up by three shots, but the rest of the field could not shoot low enough to catch the American. Stadler is seeking his second win on the European Tour.
The 34-year-old held a 3-shot lead over Frenchman Victor Riu after the second round, but Riu carded a 2-over 73 and dropped into a tie for second place at 5-under 208. He is tied with Thongchai Jaidee, who shot a 69 at Le Golf National.
U.S. Open champion Martin Kaymer is alone in fourth place at 3-under 210 after shooting a 70 on Saturday. Matthew Baldwin (70) and Bernd Wiesberger (71) are both right behind Kaymer at 2-under.
Defending Alstom Open de France champion Graeme McDowell is eight shots off the pace at 1-under and he is tied for seventh with Robert Karlsson (70), Damien McGrane (72), Michael Hoey (73) and Mark Foster (73).
Saturday's lowest round was a 3-under 68 turned in by Julien Quesne, who is at even-par for the week.
Stadler's lead was not always so comfortable on Saturday. In fact, Riu started his round off strong and was able to pull even with the leader at one point.
Up by three shots to begin the day, Stadler parred his first two holes before dropping a shot with a bogey at No. 3. Riu made birdies at both five and nine, while Stadler rounded out his front nine with six straight pars. The duo, who were paired together, shared the lead at 9-under heading to No. 10.
Then the wheels started to come off for Riu, starting with a bogey on the par-4 10th hole. Stadler countered Riu's bogey with a birdie to move two shots ahead.
Riu picked himself up briefly with a birdie at 11, but back-to-back bogeys at 12 and 13 put him three shots back. Riu made birdie at 14 before making three straight bogeys from 15. He made par at 18 to finish his round.
Stadler, on the other hand, cruised to six straight pars before making his second bogey of the round at No. 17, dropping his lead to four. He too parred the 18th and finished with a 72.
"I got about what I deserved out of my game today," Stadler said. "I didn't play that great, made a whole lot of pars and did not have nearly as many looks as I had the last couple days, but you can't expect to play that well for four days in a row."
Stadler understood how tough the course was playing, so he was pleased with his round.
"I knew I really didn't have to do anything crazy today," he said "A couple less would have been nice, but overall I'm happy the way it went."
Jaidee had one of the better rounds on the day, making four birdies at seven, eight, 13 and 16. He also made bogey at the third and 18th holes.
NOTES: Just three players (Quesne, Jaidee and Wade Ormsby) were able to break 70 on Saturday ... Stadler is looking to become the first American to win the Open de France since Barry Jaekel in 1972 ... With no bogey-free rounds on Saturday, there have been just two all week (Stadler in round one, Victor Dubuisson in round two).