Trophée Hassan II: Marcel Siem surges four clear after a three-under 69
Marcel Siem moved four clear of the field in the Trophée Hassan II after a third-round 69 at Golf du Palais Royal.
Last Updated: 31/03/13 1:20pm
Siem started the day three shots clear and despite bookending his round with a couple of sixes at the first and 17th holes, five birdies kept him on course for a third European Tour victory.
The 32-year-old Siem, who needs to win on Sunday to climb into the world's top 50 and earn a place in the Masters, finished the day on 15-under-par.
Spain's Pablo Larrazabal, 2011 champion David Horsey of England and Finland's Mikko Ilonen are all tied for second place on 11-under.
After Siem had bogeyed the par five first, Horsey and Ilonen joined the German in a share of the lead.
But once the leader had rolled in long birdie putts at the seventh and ninth to turn one ahead, his rivals struggled to stay in touch.
Siem extended his lead with a birdie at the long tenth before striking his tee shot to within a foot of the 12th pin for another birdie.
Two bogeys in his last three holes saw Ilonen slip back into the chasing pack.
Siem told the European Tour's website: "I got over a tough start with tough condition and all the guys just behind me seemed to start really well and almost caught me up.
"I had to hole a few big putts just to stay ahead and then I managed to pull away a little bit. But then 15 and 17 were disappointing because you are really looking to pick up a couple of shots there but I managed to give one away.
"There was pressure there so it was great to make a few putts and pick up four in six holes. It is very nice to have the gap back for the start of the final round tomorrow. I am pretty confident at the moment so I know the swing is there when I trust it and just let it go. That will be very important tomorrow."
Despite dropping off the pace, Ilonen refused to rule out a dramatic comeback in the final round which would secure his first victory on the European Tour in more than six years.
"I think the momentum changed a lot on 11 when I had the penalty shot for the ball moving at address," he said.
"I still made four, but after that I hit good and bad shots and I think that affected me. The one thing I did well throughout the day was putt well so I was really pleased with that.
"I am four back and would rather be a little bit closer but we have three guys four behind that can catch him but one of us will have to go really low tomorrow and I think the golf course will allow that. I have made enough birdies and eagles to know I can do it, but I just have to avoid the mistakes."