Matthieu Pavon has 54-hole Spanish Open lead as Jon Rahm struggles

Matthieu Pavon has 54-hole Spanish Open lead as Jon Rahm struggles
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MADRID — Matthieu Pavon kept his lead of the Spanish Open to enter the final round with a two-stroke advantage on Saturday.

The No. 3-ranked Jon Rahm (67) is tied for 34th and nine shots back as he struggles to defend his title won last year when Pavon finished runner-up.

Pavon hit a 5-under 66 after making six birdies to go with one bogey at the Club de Campo Villa in Madrid to double his overall lead at the end of the third round. The French player has led since his opening 63 and is now 16 under after 54 holes.

The 30-year-old Pavon is searching for his first DP World Tour victory.

“What I learned (from last year) is that it is tough to beat Jon Rahm. Last year he got me by six shots and I thought I had a great week,” Pavon said. “This week I just try to be myself. I think I have some family from Spain, my grandfather was from Madrid also, so everything is kind of matching up, and I am just happy to be here.”

England’s Nathan Kimsey (65) is Pavon’s nearest challenger in second place. Spain’s Alfredo Garcia-Heredia (68), French players Mike Lorenzo-Vera (68) and Romain Langasque (66), and South African Zander Lombard (65) are all four shots behind Pavon in a four-way tie for third.

Rahm won three of the last four Spanish Opens, including last year to match Seve Ballesteros’ three titles at the event. He is playing in his first tournament since helping Europe defeat the United States in the Ryder Cup two weeks ago at Marco Simone in Italy.

“(Tomorrow) I will go out there to play and shoot as low a score as possible, it is the least I can ask of myself,” Rahm said. “Let’s see if I can have a good Sunday and make it interesting.”

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