Volvo China Open: Mikko Ilonen holds a three-shot lead at the halfway mark
Mikko Ilonen completed a flawless 63 to claim a three-shot lead after the second round of the Volvo China Open.
Last Updated: 04/05/13 6:39am
The former British Amateur champion took advantage of the closing stretch, picking up shots at the sixth, eighth and ninth to lead Australia's Brett Rumford, who is chasing a second straight win, and Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat.
Overnight leader Robert-Jan Derksen is a shot further back on 8 under par, while 12-year-old Ye Wo-cheng from China bogeyed the final two holes to card a second consecutive 79 and finish 14 over par at Binhai Lake Golf Club in Tianjin.
Ilonen's 63 equalled his lowest round on the European Tour and gives him a great chance of claiming a first victory since the second of his two wins in 2007.
"It wasn't playing as easy as it looked," the 33-year-old said. "I gave myself a lot of opportunities, especially on my back nine, and felt good with my putter.
"The score is as good as it gets, but ball-striking wise I've been better, even this year. It was a very comfortable round, I didn't put myself in trouble at all.
"I drove the ball decent, I hit more fairways than yesterday so there was no stress. It made life a bit easier.
"It's a good position to be in and it should be an interesting weekend."
Holland's Derksen produced a strong finish with three birdies in his last five holes to add a 70 to his opening 66 as he looks to end a run of 215 European Tour events without a win.
Spain's Pablo Larrazabal carded a 66 to lie two shots behind Rumford on seven under alongside England's Lee Slattery.
Meanwhile, defending champion Branden Grace - coincidentally the last man to win back-to-back events on tour in his native South Africa last year - was three under after a superb fightback.