Narrow lead for Yang
YE Yang will take a one-shot lead over Mikko Ilonen and Jamie Donaldson into the final round of the Volvo China Open.
PGA Championship winner YE Yang will take a one-shot lead over Finland’s Mikko Ilonen and Welshman Jamie Donaldson into the final round of the Volvo China Open.
The Korean looks in ominous form as he seeks to build on last week’s eighth-place finish at the Masters and carded a bogey-free four-under-par 68 to top the leaderboard at 14-under-par after a see-saw third day at a blustery Jinji Lake International Golf Club.
Fast-starting Ilonen carded six birdies in his 68, while Donaldson dropped just one shot for a three under 69 to remain in the hunt for a maiden European Tour title after finishing sixth in Andalucia two weeks ago.
“Today was bogey free but it was also tough to save par on a lot of occasions,” said 38-year-old Yang.
“Overall, it was difficult but I am very satisfied that I saved a lot of pars and it puts me in a good position on the leaderboard. Hopefully I can sustain my performance tomorrow.”
After overnight leader Kim Do-hoon, Yang, Donaldson and Ilonen all held the lead on the front nine, Yang briefly opened up a two-shot advantage with four to play after just missing a long eagle putt before converting for a third birdie in five holes after the turn.
But after playing partner Donaldson also picked up a shot at the par five 14th, Ilonen’s sixth birdie of the day arrived at the par three 17th to trim the advantage and push the pair two shots clear of Spain’s Pablo Larrazabal (70) with Kim (73) and 2005 champion Stephen Dodd (66) at 10 under.
“I am very happy. I played nicely from the start and really got it going in the middle,” said 34-year-old Donaldson, who has just one top 10 to his name this year.
“It was a good solid day and I hit lot of fairways and a lot of green and gave myself a few chances.
“I dropped one shot and I think four birdies and one bogey is fair. It was a good days work, it was tough with the wind.”
Ilonen made the early running with three birdies in four holes and, after finding water off the tee at the par three sixth, briefly took his turn to head the field after a deft chip and run birdie from the edge of the green at the par five ninth.
“I felt confident coming into this week and have done all week,” said two-time winner Ilonen who also only has one top 10 this season with a third place at the Trophee Hassan II last month.
“I have been concentrating on my putting and I have putted well. I feel comfortable on these greens. I like the speed – there’s some grain but not too much. I feel like I have a good feel with my clubs too.”
Former European Tour rookie of the year Larrazabal made a late move back into contention after following up a double-bogey seven at the start of the back nine with a hat-trick of birdies to rescue a two-under-par round.
Johan Edfors (68) claimed sole possession of seventh at nine under with Oliver Fisher looking to add to second and third-place finishes in his last two events after a 70 secured a tie for eighth rounding out the top 10 a further shot adrift alongside Bradley Dredge (68), Alexander Noren (70), Ross McGowan (69) and Rhys Davies.
After winning his maiden title in Morocco last month, 21-year-old Challenge Tour graduate Davies produced a “special back nine” which included two eagles in three holes for a bogey-free seven-under-par 65.
“I have kept telling myself to be patient all week,” said Davies, who chipped in from 70 yards and holed a mammoth 60 foot putt.
“I didn’t play that badly over the first two rounds, but it wasn’t quite happening. It wasn’t quite happening on the front nine but it certainly did on the back nine.”
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