Volvo China Open: Brett Rumford closing in on back-to-back European Tour wins
Brett Rumford will take a one-shot lead into the final round of the Volvo China Open after carding a third round 69.
Last Updated: 05/05/13 7:05am
Rumford, seeking back-to-back wins after winning the Ballantine's Championship in Korea on Sunday, got off to a slow start with five straight pars, but then birdied the sixth, seventh and eighth to reach 12 under par.
If the 35-year-old hangs on he will become only the third Australian to win back-to-back tournaments in the 41-year history of the European Tour.
Overnight leader Mikko Ilonen, the former British Amateur champion seeking a first European Tour title since 2007, relinquished his three-shot advantage but remains in contention one shot behind Rumford.
Ilonen, who shot a disappointing one-over-par 73, bogeyed the 18th after driving into the water to hand Rumford the lead.
The wind picked up as the day progressed at Binhai Lake Golf Club, making conditions difficult for the players.
"That was a tough day," said Rumford. "I really started to feel things on the back nine. I did really well to hang in nicely with some tired golf swings, I mentally stayed with it - physically not so much but mentally I hung in there.
"The wind was really starting to dry things out so you've got to be very precise."
Ilonen, who equalled the lowest round of his European Tour career with a flawless 63 on Friday, remains confident that he can erase his one-shot deficit and claim victory come Sunday.
"It was a good fight out there," he said. "His short game today was incredible, and his confidence is obviously very high, especially on the greens, so I'm going to have to play very well to beat him tomorrow.
"It's good to be in the final group tomorrow. In Morocco earlier in the season, I had a bad round on the Saturday and dropped out of the last group. So I'm pleased with the way I ground out a score today, even though I didn't maybe play my best golf."
Spain's Pablo Larrazabal lies on 10 under, two back, after a 69, while Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat is a shot further back after a 72.
Joost Luiten of the Netherlands is in fifth place on eight under after compiling a solid 68.