A hat-trick of birdies from the sixth saw Brett Rumford catch Mikko Ilonen midway through the third round of the Volvo China Open at Binhai Lake Golf Club.
The Australian, chasing back-to-back titles after his play-off victory at the Ballantine’s Championship last weekend, pitched to within a foot at the par five sixth, knocked a stunning approach to two feet at the seventh, and drained a ten footer at the eighth for an outward 33.
That took him 12 under, alongside Finland’s Ilonen, who had eventful level par 36.
Starting the day three clear, the 33 year old pulled a three foot par putt at the first and saw his lead diminish to one when Kiradech Aphibarnrat birdied the long second.
Ilonen – who won both his European Tour titles back in 2007 – responded with a gain of his own at the second.
However, at the next par five – the sixth – he overshot the green with his third shot and bogeyed, before retrieving the shot at the next.
England’s former World Number Three Paul Casey made an impressive move to be four under through 12 holes and nine under overall; sharing third place with Spaniard Pablo Larrazábal and Aphibarnrat, whose early birdie was cancelled out with a bogey at the short next, as a result.
Larrazábal recorded three straight birdies after the turn and when he rolled in a six footer at the 13th to make it four in a row he was level with Ilonen and Rumford on 12 under.