Tight at the top in Shanghai

England’s David Howell is one of four leaders at the top of a crowded Volvo China Open leaderboard after the third round.

The 39-year-old shot a four-under-par 68 at Tomson Shanghai Pudong on Saturday to share the lead on eight under with three others – defending champion Alexander Levy and local players Hao-tong Li and Ashan Wu.

China’s Li and Wu both shots 69s, while Levy stayed on track for successive China Open titles with a one-under-par 71 – though his round was at one stage shaping up to be much better.

Levy birdied his first four holes out of the gate – including sinking a 60-foot putt at the third – but then played the remaining 14 in a disappointing three over par.

“It was the perfect start for me, but after that I got a little bit nervous, because I haven’t played well for three months now so I haven’t been in this position for a while,” said Levy.

“It’s nice to be back at the top of the leaderboard, but I have to get used to it again.

“I’m just really happy to be playing some good golf again, that’s more important than me worrying about winning the trophy again. I’ll need to have a good round again tomorrow, but it’s not easy on this course because you can’t be too aggressive.”

Howell, meanwhile, started with six solid pars but then picked up shots at the seventh and eighth before adding further birdies at the ninth, 10th and 12th. A lone bogey at the par-four 14th prevented him from taking the outright lead.

“It was a very nice day for me,” said Howell.

“I felt like there was a score to be had out there, and I adapted to the conditions much better than I did yesterday, when I struggled with the comparative softness of the course. I knew what to expect today, and took advantage.

“I really got it going nicely around the turn. I had a few chances early on which I didn’t take, but I managed to stay patient and eventually the birdies came.”

Lying two shots off the pace are Magnus Carlsson, Seve Benson, Prom Meesawat and recent Trophee Hassan II champion Richie Ramsay.

Belgium’s Thomas Pieters follows a shot further back on five under.

It was a bad day for two of Friday’s leading lights. Overnight leader Julien Quesne and American Peter Uihlein both struggled to four-over 76s to fall four and five shots off the pace respectively.