Damien McGrane birdied the last two holes at Beijing CBD International Golf Club to open up a three stroke lead over Michael Lorenzo-Vera and Oliver Wilson going into the final round of the Volvo China Open.
A maiden European Tour title is now within the Irishman’s grasp after a third round 68 took him to 11 under par 205 and three clear of the leader for the first two days, Lorenzo-Vera of France, and England’s Wilson with Australian Scott Strange moving up to fourth on six under par with a best of the day 66.
McGrane has come close to that maiden breakthrough on a number of occasions, notably in finishing runner-up in the EMAAR-MGF Indian Masters in February. Since being paired with Tiger Woods, and outscoring the World Number One, in the third round of the Dubai Desert Classic McGrane also appears to have grown in stature.
With a three stroke cushion over two more players seeking their first European Tour titles, McGrane has his best chance yet to finally cross the finish line.
“It is nice to go out as leader and a little cushion is good,” said McGrane. “But it is a tough course and I must play my own game, focus on what I am doing. I will need to hole a few putts and a few chip and putts I am sure will come into play. It will be a good day and I expect to continue the good golf I am playing.
“I have led tournaments before and it is all part and parcel of the golf business. I am expecting to play well again tomorrow and use my experiences in the past. I finished third last time I was leading going into the final round. I need to use that experience and push on and do better this time around.
“It is all about coping with situations and I need to go out tomorrow and deal with the situation, play my own game and play well.
“I have been close for a number of years now and I am looking for my first win. I have to start somewhere and you start with one. The sooner it comes the better.”
Wilson has also been knocking on the door for some time and has been runner-up three times in the last 12 months. He also had victory snatched from his grasp by Paul Casey in the Volvo China Open in November 2005 just when he appeared certain to win for the first time.
A third round of 70, with five birdies and three dropped shots, took the 27 year old to eight under par 208.
“It was just a little unfortunate that I didn’t take advantage of a few of the shots that I missed,” rued Wilson. “Three shorts ones today which you should not missed. But I recovered well and it’s good to know that I still not too far away.
“I probably have to shoot a good score, make some birdies and go low. We’ll see what happens. Hopefully, I can hole a few putts if I hit the ball like I hit today. I’ve got a chance and I’ll try to keep the pressure on.”
Lorenzo-Vera is also looking for his European Tour breakthrough having won the Challenge Tour Rankings and posted a level par 72 to lie alongside Wilson on eight under par.
“I didn’t play my best golf today but I finish on level par,” said the Frenchman. “And for that, I’m happy. I’m still in and to play poorly but make even-par today on this type of course, I’m very happy.
“Damien played well today so he has a three shot lead and it’s going to be quite hard if he continues playing the way he has been doing. We’ve to play really well to catch him.”
Strange picked up six birdies in a flawless round to finish one ahead of Johnnie Walker Classic Champion Mark Brown on New Zealand in the event sanctioned by The European Tour, Asian Tour and China Golf Association, while defending champion Markus Brier lies in a three way tie for sixth place on four under par, seven shots off the lead.