Jade Schaeffer leads on eight under par heading into the final round of the Lalla Meryem Cup in Morocco after carding a two under par round of 69 on a marathon third day at Golf de L’Ocean in Agadir.

The 25-year-old from France ended the day a stroke ahead of Norwegian Marianne Skarpnord and Australian Karen Lunn, with Italian Stefania Croce a shot further back after a tournament low-round of eight under 63.  

After a five hour weather delay on Friday, half the field started at 7.30am in fair weather on Saturday morning and six competitors were still going when third round play was suspended due to darkness at 7:05pm. It was just after the leading trio had holed out on the 18th green.

The six players yet to finish will resume their third rounds at 7:30am on Sunday. Round four will then be played off two tees, in a U shaped draw, starting at 9am. Players with aggregate scores between par and three over par will go out first.  

Schaeffer, who shared the lead after the first round, said she felt torn about her performance.

“I’m very happy because it’s a good score but I have so many opportunities for birdies close to the hole and I don’t make them. I’m happy to finish the round today, in the dark, but I’m happy,” said the 2011 Prague Golf Masters champion.  

Skarpnord, the second round leader, followed her 65 with a level par 71 and added: “To be honest with you I didn’t play great today. I didn’t hole any putts. I holed a putt on 15 and 16 and that was about it so I didn’t hit it as good as yesterday and the day before so level par for me is just okay.”

Lunn, who played 32 holes on Saturday, is now in the hunt for her tenth Ladies European Tour title after a round of three under 68.

She said: “It’s been a very long day. I think I’ve been at the golf course now for about 13 hours so that’s some sort of record. Yesterday and this morning I played really well. From tee to green I really didn’t miss a shot at all. This afternoon I hit a few bad shots and I think I was probably a little bit tired. The first couple of days were very, very good and I actually holed a couple of putts this afternoon so that kept me in there.”

Croce did not drop a shot in her third round and is being chased by four young guns in a share of fifth place on five under par.

England’s Eleanor Givens and Esther Choe of the United States are both in contention to win on their professional debuts while France’s Valentine Derrey and South African Tandi Cuningham are both aiming for their first wins on tour.

However, Sweden’s Linda Wessberg is just four shots off the pace in ninth place on four under and as an experienced competitor with three wins on tour, cannot be ruled out of the race.