Rory McIlroy's challenge begins to fade at French Open
THAILAND'S Thongchai Jaidee remained the man to catch in the final round of the French Open as a frustrated Rory McIlroy struggled to mount a title challenge in Paris.
Jaidee began the day with a two-shot lead and extended his advantage to five thanks to birdies on the second and sixth at Le Golf National, venue for the 2018 Ryder Cup. However, former champion Martin Kaymer, who had already birdied the second and fifth, then picked up further shots on the eighth and 10th to close within three of the lead and ensure Jaidee would not have things all his own way.
In contrast, McIlroy had failed to record a single birdie on the front nine after starting the day just two shots off the lead, the world number four also dropping a shot on the par-five third after missing from three feet.
At five under par, the four-time major winner was five shots off the pace alongside former Ryder Cup team-mate Francesco Molinari and in need of a repeat of Saturday's fireworks, when he covered the back nine in just 30 shots.
Molinari had closed to within two shots of Jaidee when he carded four birdies in a row from the third, only to drop shots on the ninth and 10th before carding his fifth birdie of the day on the 11th. Kaymer missed a good birdie opportunity on the 11th and eased the pressure on Jaidee further still when he bogeyed the next after a wayward approach to the green from a fairway bunker.
Jaidee took full advantage with a birdie on the 11th to extend his lead to five shots once more, with England's Andy Sullivan joining Kaymer in second place after birdies on the 12th and 14th.