Robert-Jan Derksen edged into the early clubhouse lead in the BMW Asian Open after a three under par 69 took him one clear of Darren Clarke in Shanghai.
A testing wind made the Tomson Shanghai Golf Club increasingly difficult but both Derksen and Clarke managed to plot their round the tight fairways with sub-70 scores to move to the top of the leaderboard.
Derksen, who last won on The European Tour International Schedule three years ago, got off to a great start with birdies at the tenth and 11th holes and thereafter picked up another three shots with just two bogeys on the card to move to five under par 139.
“I was very pleased,” said the Dutchman. “I got off to a good start and it was very difficult conditions but I hung in there so I’m pleased to be leading.
“It is important to hit fairways and I did that well today. That meant I didn’t always hit driver and preferred to hit a longer shot in. The greens are firm and downwind it is tough to stop the ball. A few holes you can attack which I did and it worked out well but pars are pretty good and if you can make the odd birdie that is good.
“Putting has been good this week and that is a key and if I can continue then I should have a chance on Sunday.”
Clarke is also benefitting from improved putting and took 29 putts for a second successive day on his way to a round of 69 and four under par score of 140.
“The course was very difficult with that breeze and it was very difficult to get the ball close to the hole, so anything under 70 was a very good and I am very pleased,” said the Ryder Cup player.
“I haven’t holed the world but 29 putts yesterday and 29 again today which is a lot better than the 32, 33 which I have been averaging this year. I worked with a guy last week on my alignment and it feels a lot better so hopefully I can keep on doing it and holing a lot more.”
Overnight leader Peter O’Malley stretched his lead with two early birdies but slipped back on the back nine to finish with a 74 to lie at three under par 141. Liang Wen-chong posted a second successive 71 to finish at two under par and on the same mark as Chinese amateur Hu Mu which will give the home fans plenty to cheer about over the weekend.