Alexander Knappe shot a sublime bogey-free eight under par round of 64 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Foshan Open on the European Challenge Tour.
The German came into the tournament in imperious form after blowing away the rest of the field at last week’s Hainan Open to win his second title of the season on Europe’s top developmental tour.
The 27 year old, who currently sits in third place in the Road to Oman Rankings, arrived at Foshan Golf Club one week early to prepare himself for the two Challenge Tour events that have been held in southern China.
And the man from Paderborn believes his extra practice in the Far East has equipped him well for the last two weeks, and will help him to compete for his third trophy of the campaign tomorrow.
“I think I really played well today and was so solid,” he said. “I never really was in trouble and it was a lovely round. I could have maybe holed a few more putts but I have to be happy with eight under and it is a really good score.
“It was a little bit warmer and a lot less windy today which made it a lot easier on the course. That was the reason why the scoring all round was really low.
“It helped me a lot coming a week earlier to China as I managed to get used to the heat and the way the course here in Foshan is set up. After spending seven days at Foshan Golf Club before I played in Hainan last week I felt really, really prepared for this week.
“I just love playing in China. I like playing in the heat and feel that I play a lot better when my muscles are loose. The heat really makes a difference for me. The people here are also fantastic, and to hear them cheering for me as I was playing gave me a real boost.
“I like to compete against good players and I think that is what motivates me the most. I want to beat them and play as best as I can in these big tournaments – to get as many points as possible as the season is not over.
“To win back-to-back would be a great achievement, mainly because it would mean that I will have won three times and it will give me a better category next season. This is something that will really motivate me during my round tomorrow.”
Two shots behind Knappe are England’s Max Orrin and Marcus Armitage who are joined by France’s Matthieu Pavon on 14 under par overall. The 23 year old from Toulouse is one of a number of players currently in the Road to Oman top 15 and competing for a European Tour card.
China’s Chen Zi-hao carded five birdies and two bogeys to post a three under par score of 69 and claim tenth place – and is currently the highest-ranked Chinese player in the field.