2010 champ Davies and Horsey tied after 54 holes in Hassan Trophy II

rhys davies, david horsey
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David Horsey (left) and Rhys Davies shook hands on the 18th green Saturday after endng the third round tied for the lead.
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Associated Press and PA Sport

Series:

Defending champion Rhys Davies of Wales recovered from a poor start to his third round to shoot 4-under 68 and maintain a share of the lead with England’s David Horsey at the European Tour’s Hassan Trophy II on Saturday.

Davies had three bogeys in the first six holes, but then hit six birdies for a 10-under total of 205. Horsey profited from an eagle on the sixth hole to shoot a 67 on the Golf du Palais Royal course.

2011 HASSAN TROPHY II

The Hassan Trophy II is unusual in that it was staged as an exhibition for several years before becoming a full-fledged European Tour event.

“So far, so good. I’ve played pretty well the last few days and I’m pretty happy to be at the top of the leaderboard,” Davies said. “I’m looking forward to a good battle tomorrow.”

Davies, defending a title for the first time as a professional, and BMW International Open winner Horsey will start Sunday’s final round with a one-shot lead over South Africa’s Jaco van Zyl, who had seven birdies in a 65.

“It would mean a lot to get that second (title) win under my belt,” Davies said. “Every time I go out there I aim to win the tournament and when you’ve got a chance to compete, I really enjoy it. And I’ve got that chance tomorrow so I can’t wait.”

Horsey, meanwhile, felt he could have done a little better but was confident of pushing Davies all the way.

“The birdie chances dried up a little bit on the back nine, but then I did manage to chip-in for birdie on 15,” Horsey said. “Should be great tomorrow. Rhys is a great player and the defending champion so he is going to be very tough to beat, but hopefully I can play my own game and give him a run for his money.”

Joost Luiten of the Netherlands shared the overnight lead with Davies but managed only a 71 to sit tied for sixth.

South African George Coetzee looked set to challenge for the lead after adding an eagle on the fifth to birdies at his first three holes, but he could not maintain his scintillating start and hit an average round, which was littered five bogeys.

Davies had previously insisted that he does not feel any added pressure because he is defending his title, but admits he wants to add to his tournament win tally.

"It would mean a lot to get that second win under my belt," he said. "Every time I go out there I aim to win the tournament and when you've got a chance to compete, I really enjoy it. And I've got that chance tomorrow so I can't wait."

An eagle on the 10th means that Finland’s Mikko Ilonen remains in contention, currently tied on fourth with Coetzee after a round of 69, after recovering from a 3-over-par first round.

Darren Clarke dropped out of contention after a poor third round of 81 took his overall score to 4 over par, leaving him no chance of troubling the leaders in Sunday's final round.