Gregory Havret shot a 64 on Saturday and is tied for second place with second- round leader Raphael Jacquelin, who posted a 4-under 68 in the third round. The duo is knotted at 17-under-par 199.
Marcel Siem carded a 4-under 68 and is alone in fourth place at minus 16, followed by Bradley Dredge from Wales, who fashioned a round of 63 to stand at 15-under-par 201.
Saturday's conditions were perfect with sun and little wind. On Thursday, heavy rainfall pounded the course but Saturday was the best opportunity for low scoring and Hansen took advantage.
He collected three birdies over his first six holes, then brought the gallery to its feet with a 30-foot birdie putt at the ninth. He made the turn at 4-under 32 and moved ahead of the field with his play on the second nine at Houghton.
Hansen birdied the par-3 12th then birdied the par-5 16th to match Havret in the lead at 17-under par. At the par-5 closing hole, the Dane landed in a bunker off the tee and pitched out to take his chance at birdie the hard way. Hansen roped a 6-iron to 20 feet and rolled home the birdie to take his first 54-hole lead since the Dutch Open last October.
At the Dutch Open, Hansen finished second to Maarten Lafeber, but the Dane did visit the winner's circle at the Irish Open in 2002. Hansen thinks both experiences can help him hoist the trophy on Sunday.
'Because of the situation, sometimes in the last round you can't expect to hit the ball as well as you have done over the second and third rounds, so you sometimes need to be able to chip it up and down, or chip it in even,' said Hansen. 'I don't expect to go out and play as well as the last two days, you need to have a little bit of a scrambling going on the last day and last year I didn't expect that. Tomorrow I will.'
Hansen equaled David Frost's 54-hole record from 1997. Adam Scott also matched the mark when he went on to victory in the 2001 edition.
Havret flew out of the gate Saturday with five birdies in his first six holes. He birdied the par-5 16th, then holed a bunker shot from 20 feet to make it back-to-back birdies.
The Frenchman birdied 18 to polish off his round with three straight birdies. Havret, the winner of the 2001 Italian Open, is looking forward to Sunday's final round and a chance at win No. 2 on the European Tour.
'I feel the pressure but I like it,' said Havret. 'I like to see people everywhere watching me, I like to have all my friends on the phone happy for me and my family of course, all these kind of things are important for me. That is the reason I play golf.'
Jacquelin did not the have the scoring round his fellow competitors had with three birdies and a bogey over his first 17 holes. At the 18th, Jacquelin knocked a 3-wood onto the green and drained the 12-footer for eagle to get within one of the lead.
'I hit the ball pretty good today, not as good as yesterday perhaps and my putting was not as good,' said Jacquelin, looking for his first win on tour. 'I made a few mistakes but the good thing is that I am still in contention and I hope to hit my putts a bit better tomorrow.'
Craig Lile (68) and Alan McLean (69) share sixth place at 14-under-par 202, followed by Keith Horne (63) and Trevor Immelman (64), who won last week's South African Airways Open. That pair is knotted at minus 13.
Lee Westwood and last year's European Tour Rookie of the Year Peter Lawrie are part of a large group of golfers who share 10th place. They trail Hansen by six shots at 12-under-par 204.