Friday, 19 March 2010
Volvo China Open - Round Two  (Getty Images)
Volvo China Open - Round Two (Getty Images)

Richard Finch will take a one shot lead into the final round at the Volvo China Open after six consecutive birdies around the turn proved the cornerstone of a blistering third round 66.

Having bogeyed the sixth, Finch picked up six shots over the next six holes at Beijing CBD International Golf Club to charge to the top of the leaderboard before another birdie on the 16th saw him finish eight under, one shot ahead of playing partner Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño who shot a four under 68.

Ashley Hall lies third on five under having equalled the course record with a 65 earlier in the day alongside Markus Brier, who carded a one under 71.

"I'm really delighted with the round," Finch said."It was a slow start even though I was happy with how I was playing and then all of a sudden I seemed to get on a really good run.

"Obviously making six birdies in a row made it into a really nice day and then to pick up an extra one on the way in at the 16th was really good, so really pleased with the round.

"However, we're three quarters of the way through the tournament and there's another quarter to go so things can change quickly and one shot's not a huge lead by any means."

Starting the day on two under and four shots behind overnight leader Choi Ho-sung, five pars and a bogey at the sixth left Finch's challenge seemingly hanging in the balance.

But the 31 year old from Hull responded in fine fashion as he embarked on a run of six birdies from the seventh to revive his chances of capturing a third European Tour title.

Fernandez-Castaño kept pace with his playing partner, however, and an eagle at the 13th left the Spaniard level at the top of the leaderboard with Finch on seven under.

A birdie at the next helped Fernandez-Castaño eke out a one stroke advantage over his good friend before the par three 16th saw their roles reversed.

Fernandez-Castaño hit his tee shot through the back of the green while Finch's landed 20 feet from the pin. The Spaniard chipped back to around ten feet but missed his putt right of the hole while the Englishman's dropped into the cup and he took the lead outright.

Fernandez-Castaño bogeyed the next to hand Finch a two shot cushion but claimed what could prove to be a crucial birdie at the last to set up what undoubtedly will prove a tense and dramatic final day.

"It was a good day and I was so happy to make that birdie at the last because the two bogeys in the previous two holes almost killed my round," said last year’s Quinn Direct British Masters champion.

"We had a lot of fun out there Richard and I. We played a lot of amateur golf together and we are good friends but at the same time there is a little rivalry there which is good. He made a great run of birdies and that got me going and gave me some momentum."

Hall, meanwhile, fired himself into contention after exploiting near perfect morning conditions to collect six birdies and an eagle in his seven under par effort and equal the course record set by New Zealander Mark Brown barely an hour earlier.

Rounds of 75 and 71 had left Hall well off the pace at two over but now the 25 year old Australian finds himself well in the mix.

“It was an absolutely fantastic day, I couldn’t have asked for much more. I didn’t miss many shots and that eagle at the last was really the icing on the cake. I was in position all day and rarely hit a bad shot so I’m absolutely ecstatic,” he said.

“I would say today’s round is the best I have ever played. It’s how I was playing at the end of last year when I did well in three big Aussie events. I got a few putts early, birdied the first which is probably the hardest hole on the course and got another three on the front nine. I just felt so comfortable with the putter and played really well, so I just hope it continues.”

Four players are tied for fifth at four under par including Simon Dyson, who shot a two under 70, and the 31 year old feels he is still very much in contention.

"It's such a weird game, anything can happen out there. Finchy only needs to make a double somewhere and I birdie it and you're back to two so still a lot to play for," he said.

Dyson was level with Englishman David Dixon, who carded an impressive 67, Thai star Chapchai Nirat and Australian Scott Strange.

Choi, meanwhile, endured a mixed day as four birdies were offset by seven bogeys to leave the Korean three under alongside three other players including Brown.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
FRASER, MarcusAUS18Par
MAYBIN, GarethNIR18Par
JAIDEE, ThongchaiTHA18Par
HAIG, AntonRSA 9
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