Wu Ashun was on course to become the first Chinese player to win a European Tour event on home soil as the final round of the Volvo China Open began at Tomson Shanghai Pudong Golf Club.
The 29 year old, who predominantly plays on the Japan Golf Tour, started the day in a four-way tie for the lead with compatriot Li Hao-tong, France’s defending champion Alex Levy and England’s David Howell.
But a birdie from 15 feet on the fifth took Wu to nine under for the week through five holes – one ahead of Howell and Levy.
Levy had bogeyed the first from a bunker, but retrieved the shot at the short third from 20 feet.
Former Ryder Cup star Howell briefly led when he got up-and-down from the front bunker on the long second for birdie, but he bogeyed the fourth after a poor chip to drop back to eight under.
The 19 year old Li, a runner-up in last week’s Shenzhen International, had dropped a shot at the first and was part of a five-way tie for fourth on seven under along with England’s Seve Benson, Argentine Emiliano Grillo, Swede Magnus A Carlsson and Thailand’s Prom Meesawat.
France’s Benjamin Hebert had briefly joined the group on seven under when he aced the short eighth, only to then bogey the next after hitting his ball in the water.
Howell drew level with a birdie from 20 feet on the ninth and, after both he and Wu had bogeyed the short eighth from the sand, went ahead with a gain from six feet at the ninth.
Wu responded with a gain of his own from similar range at the tenth as the pair found themselves locked together on nine under, with Grillo one back after five birdies and a single bogey over his first 14 holes.
Grillo added another birdie on the 15th to make it a three-way tie, but saw his chances disappear when he found water at 17.
Meanwhile Howell had birdied the 11th from 30 feet to take the lead on ten under once more, with Wu one behind and Li only two back after an eagle from ten feet on the 13th.