Nicolas Colsaerts will take a one shot lead into the final round of the Volvo China Open as the Belgian seeks a first European Tour title at Luxehills International Country Club.
The big-hitting 28 year old produced a third round 66 to reach 18 under par in Chengdu, one stroke clear of Han Cheng-won.
Colsaerts was the second youngest player ever to come through The European Tour Qualifying School when he graduated on his 18th birthday in 2000, but he struggled to establish himself at the top level until last year – when he managed five top-ten finishes and finished 67th on The Race to Dubai.
He was also the longest hitter on Tour in 2010, out-driving the likes of Alvaro Quiros, and his power was on display in Chengdu as he played the four par fives in five under par courtesy of an eagle at the first and three birdies.
“An eagle on the first was the best start I could have hoped for,” said the World Number 175. “I’m not sure if I’m the only one but I hit driver over the river and tried to give myself the shortest line in.
“I holed from 25 feet and it was the best start. On 18 I probably hit the best drive of the day - it was a bit down and went off to the left.
“I hit it good and my caddy said it went 380 yards. That was a bonus because it is a bit of a daunting second shot to go over the water, it is difficult, especially when you get towards the end of the day.
“I hit a seven iron onto the green and two putted so I’m quite happy to finish like that and make four.
“The wind changed the course dramatically today. You had to think more about certain tee shots.
“The other days you could pretty much go at every pin and the ball would stop where it landed. With these greens you always want to be on the right side but it was harder with it being dry.
“I’ve been looking for a win for a couple of years but I’ve put myself in contention a few times and I know if I don’t win here it will come one day. I was a bit itchy today and managed alright. I hope tomorrow I’ll manage the same.”
Han led after day one when he opened with a 64 but a second round 70 had dropped him out of the top ten.
The former Asian Amateur Champion was in top form once again though as he birdied five of his first seven holes en route to a best-of-the-day 65.
The 19 year old, playing only his second event as a professional, was delighted with his efforts.
“I played perfectly today – some good shots and good putts,” he said.
“I took confidence from my putting today. When I missed shots I made the putts, that helped my round.
“This is the best I have played as a professional. I have some experience of big tournaments from when I was an amateur and that experience is helping me now. I’m not nervous - I believe in myself.”
Irelands Peter Lawrie and France’s Grégory Havret, who unlike the leading pair have both won on The European Tour, are tied for third after both carded 68s to advance to 16 under.
Overnight leader Jamie Donaldson failed to capitalise on his sparkling 61 as the Welshman slipped to fifth with a 70, but 22 players are within six shots of lead on what promises to be an exciting final day.
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