Lowry and Westwood lose ground

Lee Westwood and Shane Lowry suffered big blows today to their hopes of being contenders for the Alstom French Open title in Paris this weekend.

While Dutchman Robert-Jan Derksen continued to lead the way – he was three clear after an eight under par 63 and resumed with six straight pars – he would not have enjoyed seeing Westwood make a hat-trick of birdies from the 14th after starting at the 10th.

But the world number three, doubtful before the start of a tournament after a scare that he was suffering from a blood clot in his leg, bogeyed the difficult 17th for the second day running and then hit his tee shot into the water on the short second.

A double bogey five dropped him back to one under, seven adrift.

Last year’s Irish Open champion Lowry, meanwhile, charged from two over to three under with five birdies in the space of eight holes, only to run up a double bogey seven at the long 14th.

Derksen’s closest overnight challengers Jean Van de Velde, defending champion Martin Kaymer and Alejandro Canizares were all afternoon starters.

Before the trio set off again they were joined on five under by England’s Robert Rock, Frenchman Gregory Bourdy and South African Charl Schwartzel.

Ian Poulter, who like Westwood sat out the Wednesday pro-am after his leg swelled up following an insect bite, covered his first 11 holes in three under and on two under was in a tie for 22nd.

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