After a joint best of the week round of 64 on the third day, Matteo Manassero catapulted himself into contention to become only the second player this season to capture back to back European Tour titles.
The teenage sensation won in Singapore last week after a marathon final day, completing 33 holes in regulation and a further three in the sudden death play-off before eventually seeing off South African Louis Oosthuizen to collect the biggest cheque of his fledgling European Tour career.
Given his exertions, few gave him a realistic chance of repeating his heroics here, but the 19 year old from Verona is proving the doubters wrong with another virtuoso display at Hong Kong Golf Club.
Despite opening with a bogey for the second day running, Manassero notched five birdies and an eagle to close to within one shot of the lead, held jointly by New Zealand’s Michael Campbell and Spaniard Miguel Angel Jiménez.
Manassero’s back nine of 30 included five successive threes from the 12th hole, and the young Italian is now setting his sights on emulating the achievements of Branden Grace, who won the Joburg Open and the Volvo Golf Champions in successive weeks at the start of the season.
Manassero said: “Last week really made me relax a lot on the golf course, and my position coming into the final day here is certainly due to what happened last week, because I’ve got more freedom.
“I’m just more relaxed on the golf course, and I take what comes. It’s going really well now because everything is coming together nicely. So I’m in a great moment.
“I like this course, and I like this place, so it wasn’t difficult getting myself up for this tournament. Even though last week took it out of me, I’ve managed to save some energy, and I feel fine.
“The way I’ve played this week and approached the tournament is how I hope to play every week. Even though I probably haven’t hit the ball as well as I did last week, I’m still in contention to win because I’ve felt so calm and relaxed. It’s a good feeling, and I hope I can keep it going for the final day.”